Food & Beverage

Nick Weston

Firle Estate, Sussex

You can call Nick Weston a chef, but he kindly prefers to be called a cook with a gun, fishing rod, basket, and a whole lot of different fires.

The UK-based culinary wild man has always been connected to the outdoors. Nick grew up fishing, hunting, and foraging, but his favourite memories were in the kitchen with his mom, learning to turn his exploits into a good meal. After spending years as a freelance chef around Europe, Nick returned to those formative memories of wild cooking and living with the intent to teach others how to do it as well. So he made a career change that started with a crowdfunded experiment called the Treehouse, where Nick lived entirely off the land, cooking with wild, foraged, and organic ingredients and turning it into a book where others could learn his techniques.
Carrying the moment of the Treehouse, Nick started Hunter Gather Cook in 2011, where he and his staff teach online and in person courses on cooking in the wild. Nick loves what he does, and while he doesn’t have many days off, you’d probably find him with his wife and business partner, out fishing, hunting, foraging, and turning it into a great meal. We plan to invite ourselves on his next hunting trip.


Where is your favourite culinary region or city?



Hands down- San Sebastian, Spain. I lived in Hossegor SW France, for 3 years with my wife, and it was an hour down the road and across the border.


Tell us about a perfect culinary day there (cooking or dining):



I'm a huge fan of grazing and trying lots of different small things- so the Pintxos (tapas) of the Basque country are right up my street. The best days out were hitting up Bar Nestor in Old Town for a hearty glass of Red, a massive Txuleton Steak (aged dairy cow), and the awesome tomatoes they do at Bar Nestor.


At what age did you know you would be a chef?



I grew up doing a lot of hunting and fishing, and my mum would help me turn it into something in the kitchen, foraging gradually came into play, and I've always cooked with fire since I was a kid- I suppose it was a natural progression, probably around the age of 18? I wouldn't call myself a chef- I'm a cook with a gun, fishing rod, basket, and a whole lot of different fires.


Any heroes? Chefs that you look up to?



Keith Floyd. Absolute legend- he took cookery out of the kitchen and put it in its context- there at the moment where the food has come from, a glass of wine in hand, and enjoyed what he was doing. Others- Gill Mellor, genius cook, simple ingredients, stunning food. Nathan Outlaw- If I could master the 3 components of a dish in the same way he does, I would be a very happy man. And of course, one of my fellow ambassadors, Lee Tiernan- filthy decadence and a love of offal- and his flavours are hard-hitting, thoughtful, and punchy.


Who is someone that you could not you do all of this without?



My wife, Clare, first and foremost. She is my rock and the brains behind the operation- I'm fairly disorganised when it comes to admin, but I am pretty good at logistics and execution. My growing HGC Team of woodland pirates that are always on point and do a job that most chefs would dream of. The skill sets they have are ridiculous, which is why HGC is what it is.


How do you improve as a chef each year?



Always learning, there is no end to it. We do a Guest Chef series down at Shepherd's barn, where you always learn new techniques from whoever we have down. Cookbooks- I'm very much a visual kind of person, I have my dyslexic brain to thank for that, so I tend to look at stuff, think about the dish, what's in season in terms of veg from our raised beds, the woods, fields, and meadows and then start with the protein (we mostly use game- Deer, Pheasant, Partridge, Pigeon, Rabbits, and Trout) and work backward from there.


What haven’t you accomplished yet that you aspire to do?



Fly Fishing somewhere awesome in America. Catfish Noodling. I'd like to shoot a Moose, as I do a bit of deer stalking but there’s not a lot them in the UK. Continue learning more about different cookery techniques and ingredients. Eat Fish Tacos in Baja one day. But I suppose, inventiveness, we play with a lot of fire at HGC, and I find I'm constantly driven to develop new ideas/methods of how to cook with it. That's the next cookbook...


Where will we find you on your days off?



What's a day off?! When you run your own business, it never stops, and when you turn the things you love doing into your job, it can blur the lines slightly- mostly hanging out with my family- we go truffling with the doggies, mushrooming, fishing, gardening- it all falls into the same thing, which is both a blessing and a curse. There is no escape!


What is an ingredient you love?



Pickled chillies. Anchovies.


I am happiest when I am preparing a meal with ______________.



Full roast dinner with all the trimmings.


What are the 3 most essential things you need in the kitchen?



My Team, My Knives, Fire.


What would you be doing if you weren’t a chef?





If you could hang with any chef, past or present, who would it be?



Keith Floyd or Anthony Bourdain. Actually- both.


Why do chefs need gear that’s Built for the Wild?



With what we do at HGC, we are working off grid quite a lot of the time, so to have a kit that can be bashed about and store all our food for days on end is essential. We are not your average kitchen, and we need stuff that is sturdy, reliable, and can keep stuff hot or cold wherever we are.


What YETI gear can you not do without? Why?



LoadOut® GoBox- hands down. whenever we go anywhere as a family in the Land Rover Defender with the roof tent- it's the larder; cooking at festivals- it's the kitchen utensils box. Also, all the Drinkware is amazing, keeps a cup of tea hot forever, and a G&T colder for as long as you need!


Can you describe what YETI means to you?



Absolute solid product. We've been in this game for over 10 years doing what we do and have been through quite a lot of rubbish kit. Having something that is so well designed and functions so well is amazing. The branding and colorways are very slick from a business perspective. But for me personally, it's the little things like being able to blow up my YETI duffel bag and use it as a pillow when camping out or sleeping on the barn floor after work. It's also a family with you guys- we all love doing what we do, and you guys make it a lot easier for us.


If any YETI product allows you to do something you could not easily do before, please let us know:



We always utilise the kit for different things- the loadout buckets are great for pigeon decoying, for storing pigeons and sitting on, really good for brining turkeys and game in, and also as a fermentation vessel for when we do big batches. We did also use the YETI tank bucket to hold our 12ft Christmas tree at the barn last year.