Nathan Outlaw: 'I can see a restaurant that is better than I’ve ever done before coming out of what we are doing now'

The Staff Canteen

Michelin-starred chef, Nathan Outlaw has been a restaurateur for two decades - from Cornwall to Dubai to London, he knows what it takes to run a successful business and he isn’t afraid to change direction if he needs too.

As part of The Staff Canteen podcast, Grilled, with Lisa Goodwin-Allen, he spoke about Restaurant Nathan Outlaw becoming Outlaw’s New Road, why right now he wouldn’t leave Cornwall. Plus, which is harder parenting or running a restaurant?

Changing a two Michelin-starred restaurant and what it offers is not an easy decision but that’s what Nathan and his team did in 2020. Now he believes he’s on the precipice of ‘the best restaurant’ he has ever done and enjoying every minute.

Outlaw’s New Road, formally his flagship, Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, is now an a la carte/tasting menu restaurant and it showcases the best seafood and what Nathan loves about food.

Monkfish - Outlaw's New Road

“I’ve tried to take everything which is the best of what we can offer and put it all in to one,” he explained.

Laughing he added: “Sat Bains said to me, ‘is it called Outlaw’s New Road because you’re on a new road?’. As in being quite spiritual. I said ‘no, it’s because it’s on New Road the actual restaurant is on New Road’.

“So just to set the record straight, I didn’t actually think about that when I renamed it!”

Would he ever leave Cornwall again?

Previously Nathan had restaurants in The Capital and The Goring in London and in Dubai but since making the decision to come out of those partnerships he has stayed very much in Cornwall. But would he consider branching out again?

“If you had said to me ten years ago, would you do a restaurant in Dubai? I'd have said no way. But the opportunity was there.

“If some one rang me up today, I’d say no because we are just not ready for that. I’m not ready for that, and I don’t think the business is ready for that.”

He added: “We are regrouping – not so much The Fish Kitchen, the fish kitchen does it’s thing and it is brilliant. It is ten years old this year, it’s always been there and it doesn’t get any real limelight but what it does is excellent.

“But with the New Road and the changes, within the industry and maybe with the customers people are like ‘what’s he doing?’.

"So, you have to be there constantly and consistently, making sure the message gets across.

Outlaw's New Road

“We’re very much in that stage, and I’m really enjoying that process. I can see a restaurant that is better than I’ve ever done before coming out of what we are doing now.

“The nice thing about it is the chefs and the front of house staff, have all stayed with me and they are all excited about that as well. I would say we are going to come into a period at some point, knowing what I’ve done in the last 20 odd years, and we are going to be better than we ever where.

“So, it would be foolish of me to do anything else right now.”

He explained that a lot of the previous opportunities came after he achieved two stars, saying ‘the more you get known, and the better you do, the opportunities increase’.

He said: “I like to think I’m a bit more mature now and a lot of those I just bat away because I’m not really interested.”

Which is harder raising children or running a kitchen?

Nathan, like many chefs and restauranteurs has sacrificed a lot, including spending time with his two children. Now, work life balance if top of everyone’s agenda but it hasn’t always been that way. Discussing it with Lisa they both agreed having a partner ‘you can rely on is essential’ but Nathan admitted he couldn’t say which was harder, running a business or parenting as he was always at work.

“I’ll be honest,” he said. “I only got to do the fun things because I was always at work. Rachel (his wife) has done everything, she has been brilliant.

“I was always at work, which is sad, I don’t really remember them being babies. But that is the price you pay when you take this route.

“I think now I’m enjoying it much more, and through the teenage years because I was able to mix and get time off work and spend more time with them. I think it is only in my mind because they have only ever known that way – so for them it was normal.”

He added: “Thank god for Rachel that’s all I’ll say, she has raised two lovely children and brought them up to be as amazing as they are.”

Lisa, who has a son, says ‘it’s a huge balancing act’.

“You do get the guilt sometimes when you are not at home but I’ve got an amazing husband, Steve, so we kind of do it between the two of us,” she explained. “When you are doing this job you do need a good partner you can rely on. But then you come here (Northcote) and we’ve got 28 chefs in the kitchen – it s like 28 kids sometimes, with the problems they’ve got! So equally sometimes you go home for a break!”

She added: “Ultimately, family is massively important to me and it’s about getting it right within your work ethic and managing it – which we do alright at! Everyone is different and they may look at your way and think, ‘Christ what are you doing?’ but it works for us.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th September 2023

Nathan Outlaw: 'I can see a restaurant that is better than I’ve ever done before coming out of what we are doing now'