Chef Nathan Outlaw: ‘Fine dining was too ‘hush hush’ – we make more money now the restaurant’s relaxed’

Nathan Outlaw, 43, is the chef who found fame in 2004 when he won his first Michelin star. His Restaurant Nathan Outlaw had four AA Rosettes and two Michelin stars; it topped the Good Food Guide’s Top 50 Restaurants 2018.

Today he owns Outlaw’s New Road and Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen (both have a Michelin star) in Port Isaac, Cornwall, where he lives with his wife, Rachel, two children and two dogs.

How did your childhood influence your attitude to money?

My parents worked hard but there was always scrimping and saving. We grew up on a housing estate in Kent but my brother and I never went without.

I spent my 50p pocket money on Panini Football Stickers and at 13 worked on a market stall and in a golf club washing up.

Dad was a chef and mum was “mum” when we were small and later an English teacher. We had holidays at Pontins or Butlin’s; they paid into a club weekly to afford it.

When my dad got made redundant we went to Disney World in Florida. He said: “It’s the only time I’ve had money so let’s spend it.”

What was your first full time job?

At the InterContinental hotel at Hyde Park Corner as a commis chef, once I finished catering college in 1997. Everyone was advised to go to a big five-star in London hotel for their first job. My salary was £7,500 a year.

Do you use cash, credit or debit cards? 

Debit cards. We don’t have any credit cards. We did once and fell into that trap for 15 years of having credit over our heads. When the children were young and your monthly salary came in you still didn’t have enough to pay off that credit card.

How did your first restaurant begin? 

In 2003 I worked as a chef in Newbury at the Vineyard of Stockcross. Wanting my own restaurant, the only way was to go to Cornwall.

I didn’t own anything; I leased the building in Rock with my in-laws, took over an existing restaurant, put paint on the walls and got ready. Within two weeks we opened as Black Pig.

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