As far as Michelin-starred fish restaurants go, it’s hard to imagine anyone opening one better than Nathan Outlaw’s. What started off in Rock in Cornwall branched out to Port Isaac to include a two-starred restaurant, a pub and Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, before the chef made the jump to London in 2012 to open Outlaw’s at The Capital. Just one year later, it won a Michelin star.
While Nathan is still heavily involved in the restaurant, head chef duties fall on the shoulders of Tom Brown, appointed at the start of 2016 after running the kitchen at Nathan’s former restaurant at the St Enodoc Hotel. A Cornwall local himself, he’s been working with seafood for years.
‘I got into cooking by accident,’ Tom explains. ‘I was working up the road at my local pub in Cornwall as a kitchen porter, and had fallen out of love with being in a classroom at college. I started helping out making pizzas and doing a bit of prep, and got hooked. I loved the creativity, the sense of pride and the immediate gratification that comes from cooking. Seeing the produce come in, I started to become more interested in the sourcing side of things and the food itself. I liked finding ingredients that were absolutely perfect and required little to no cooking.’
By this point Tom had finished his apprenticeship and was eager to take the next step in his career, but wasn’t sure where to start working locally. ‘I was quite cut off from the rest of the cooking world down in Cornwall,’ he says, ‘so I just wrote to every TV chef I could think of. It was 2008 and Bryn Williams was on Great British Menu – he called me himself and invited me to go and do a stage in his restaurant. I remember him getting in whole fish, entire salt marsh lambs, things like that; I’d never seen that before. It made me realise I wanted more than a kitchen that churned out pub food, and after a stint working in places around Falmouth I ended up working with Paul Ripley at Rick Stein’s restaurant, before joining Nathan in 2012.’