FOURty Seconds with Nathan Outlaw

15 Apr 2016
3 min read
FOUR catches up with the celebrated chef after his recent collaboration announcement with the world-famous Burj Al Arab Jumeirah…

What are your earliest memories of being interested in food?

My earliest memories of being interested in food are from cooking with my mum.I was given the scraps of pastry to roll out, then progressed to making fairy cakes and things like that.I suppose I would have been about 3 or 4 when I started doing that.Then, when I was 8, my dad took me into his industrial kitchen where I was allowed to make the toast on a machine, and tray up sausages for breakfast service.I was hooked!

From an eating point of view, I have very happy memories of traditional Sunday lunch, toad-in-the-hole, trifle, and fish and chips (eaten out of newspaper!) All those are still favourites with me.

What would you say has inspired your cooking the most?

It has always been about the natural ingredients. I have tremendous respect for producers who put all their enthusiasm into growing or producing the very best quality they can. For me, the raw ingredient is the most important thing, moreso even than the finished dish. I think I have a responsibility to use the fantastic raw ingredients I am given to the best of my ability and to treat them well. Seeing what is brought from market always inspires me to push on.

Describe your culinary style…

Simplicity but with complex layers of flavour.

How did your collaboration with the world-famous Burj Al Arab Jumeirah come about?

Their GM, Anthony McHale came to dine at one of my restaurants in Cornwall. He obviously enjoyed the experience and approached me to see whether I’d consider coming to the Burj Al Arab. It is such a fantastic opportunity that I couldn’t say no!

What would you say will be the main focus/concept with your menu at Burj Al Arab?

It will offer diners the very best sustainable fish and seafood available at the time, cooked with simplicity in order to showcase the natural flavours and respecting the ingredients.

What made you choose this approach?

It’s what I’ve always done.That’s why I’ve been asked!

What are your most indispensable ingredients?

Vinegars, oils, citrus, salt, herbs and spices.I can’t operate without them.

What kind of experience do you aim to give guests at the restaurant?

All the good things about fine dining but in an approachable, relaxed environment.I can’t stand all the pomp that often comes with fine dining.I want my customers to sit back, relax and enjoy their time with us.

What would you say has been the most memorable moment in your culinary career so far?

Opening my first restaurant, ‘The Black Pig’ in Rock, Cornwall. I was very young and my son was born in the same week as we opened too. It was a steep learning curve and absolutely manic but it was such an achievement.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self, starting out a career in the world of food?

Watch, listen, ask questions. You can learn so much from more experienced chefs, sometimes even how not to do things!Also, get out to see your producers and what they do. You can’t cook properly if you don’t understand where your ingredients come from and how they got to your kitchen.

What’s next for you/Whats projects do you have lined up?

I have my third book ‘Nathan Outlaw’s Everyday Seafood’ being published on 6th April, then I’ll be opening at BAA in September and I have the fourth book in production….as well as running my other restaurants and doing a couple of festivals and TV appearances in the UK. I like to keep busy!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Cake.Any cake.Try as I might, I just can’t resist!

What restaurant is currently at the top of your list to dine at?

Asador Etxebarri, in Spain.I’ve eaten there before but can’t wait to go back.They cook everything over coals.It’s amazing!