Nathan Outlaw: my life after service
How does fish-loving chef Nathan Outlaw unwind after a long shift in the kitchen? Sarah Maber finds out…
I’m always in a kitchen! Every six weeks I go to my restaurant in Dubai for four or five days; I’m in the kitchen in my London restaurant every fortnight and the rest of the time I’m in the kitchen in Cornwall.
I love cooking more than anything, but my role now is mainly just orchestrating things. It makes sense – when you’re cooking you have to be 100% focused. I’ve got a head chef who’s been working with me for a long time, so I’m very lucky. I’m like the chief taster, which isn’t good for the waistline.
Every service is different. No matter how much you plan, something will always happen that you can’t control. You get people with allergies they haven’t told you about in advance, or people who turn up to a seafood restaurant and say, ‘I don’t eat seafood.’ We’ve had exploding dishwashers and once, all our electricity turned off – that was fun. We coped by giving the customers wine and bread, but the real mayhem started when the electricity went back on – it was madness in the kitchen.
I never leave before 11pm. After I’ve finished, there are usually customers who want to say hello, which is the least I can do when some people have travelled from other countries to eat here. Then I have a 15- to 20-minute drive to get home, which I look forward to because I listen to music. We have music on all day through service, which is quite unusual in a kitchen.
I try to sneak into my house without our dog going too mental and waking everyone up. Then I’ll eat something – cheesy crumpets, yogurt and fruit, or leftovers if I’m lucky. I have a cup of tea or a couple of beers if it’s Saturday, and watch TV. My wife Rachel is usually up so we chat about the usual stuff, like how annoying the children have been. I’m never asleep before 1am, and I’m up at 7am.
I focus on the kids (Jacob, 13, and Jessica, 11), when I wake up. We have breakfast – Marmite on toast – but if I have time I’ll have porridge or a poached egg. The kitchen is the heart of our family and we try to have certain meals together.
I collect vinyl – I’m a huge music fan and I think it sounds much better on vinyl. And I’m addicted to cookery books. I’ve got a lot, getting on for 700. Wherever we go, I’m on the hunt for a secondhand bookshop in case I find anything new.
My mum is my PA and when she told me she’s booking stuff for next year I thought she was joking! I try to take every day as it comes and I don’t let the pressure get to me. Probably the biggest stress is that my children are getting to the age where soon they won’t know who I am! Life’s busy, but I’m trying to spend more time with them.
Nathan Outlaw’s Home Kitchen (Quadrille, £20) is out now.