Nathan Outlaw’s perfect Christmas

Nathan Outlaw runs two restaurants at the St Enodoc hotel in Rock, Cornwall – the casual Outlaw’s and the more formal Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, which holds two Michelin stars. Last year he opened Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac, Cornwall, and he also consults at Outlaw’s at The Capital hotel in London, which recently won its first Michelin star. He is a champion of fresh, responsibly sourced fish.

Describe an ideal Christmas: where, who, and what you would eat . . . 

At home with my family. I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas so I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. If I could invite a special guest, it would have to be someone who could give us a few songs – Nat King Cole would have been good.

What’s the worst Christmas you can remember?

When I was a young chef and had to work over Christmas. That was horrible. I was away from my family and I had to work when everyone else was having a good time.

Do you have any favourite Christmas suppliers or merchants – or any Christmas foodstuffs you are fond of?

I make rather than buy – so Christmas cake, pud and mince pies all have to be homemade, there’s really no substitute. However, other bits for the Christmas table will come from some of my favourite suppliers: cheeses from Davidstow and Thomas Hanson; veg from my local farmer, Richard Hoare; a supply of Doom Bar from Sharp’s Brewery and, of course, bubbles to toast the occasion from Camel Valley Vineyard – their Camel Valley Brut is excellent.

Any tips on how best to cook Christmas lunch?

Don’t cook turkey – try fish instead! If you really can’t face Christmas without turkey then cook it the day before, slice and reheat in portions. It’s much easier that way and you won’t overcrowd your oven. Also prep all the veg on Christmas Eve so that you aren’t tied to the kitchen all morning. The only thing you should keep back is the roast spuds, they need to be prepped and cooked on the day.

Any Outlaw family traditions at this time of year?

The kids have stockings on their beds in the morning. We have a cooked breakfast and then lunch at about 3pm. Presents are spread throughout the day so that the kids know who they’ve come from. Also, ever since I was a small boy, the contents of a whole tin of Quality Street get thrown into the air – I have no idea why we still do that!

Which cheeses would be on your cheeseboard at a party?

Davidstow three-year-old Cornish Crackler; Sharpham Brie, Bath Blue and Keltic Gold (a washed rind cheese made from cow’s milk).

What’s good to eat on Boxing Day?

Cold meats, pickles, homemade sausage rolls, bubble and squeak made with left over veg. Yummy! Oh, and a good old-fashioned trifle to follow.

Do you have a winter drink or cocktail that you make for yourself at home?

I’m partial to cider brandy. My favourite is one called Shipwrecked from The Somerset Cider Brandy Company. It’s a single-cask brew and very warming. I also like a good old-fashioned Hendrick’s gin and bitter lemon, just like an old lady.

Christmas cake or mince pies, or neither?

Both! But they have to be homemade. Shop-bought ones are just too sweet and sickly. And I’m very lucky because my wife and children don’t eat either so I have exclusive rights over any that come my way.

Do you prefer town or country in winter?

Definitely country. Cornwall is beautiful in winter and it tends to be very quiet too as there aren’t many visitors at that time of year. Walking with my dog through the woods or fields or across the beach on a cold, crisp day is magical.

What does 2014 hold for you?

I have a new book being published in May, I’m off to Australia in March for the Melbourne Food Festival and I have a TV programme called ‘Hook It, Cook It’, which I’m co-hosting with my mate Val Warner, being broadcast via Fox International Channels. After the whirlwind that has been 2013, anything is possible.

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