Nick Hales has been cooking for over 25 years; having worked for chefs such as Mark Hix, Tim Hughes and Bruno Loubet early in his career, he now owns and runs St Clement’s in the seaside town of St Leonards. Here with his passion for simply cooked food influenced by the classics, the chefs ego can be put to one side for the ingredients to take centre stage.
See Nick’s Forgotten Food Recipe – Black Pig Terrine
It was a recommendation from a fish supplier which led him away from London to Hastings, home of Europe’s largest beach launched fishing fleet, where the opportunity to open a restaurant minutes from the sea and utilise the day boat’s catch was too good to pass up.
St. Clement’s is a small restaurant with few staff and Nick firmly installed in the kitchen. On opening it rapidly became the focus of restaurant critics and food lovers alike, drawing people local and national to sample its unpretentious, affordable food and after its first year St. Clement’s was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Since then the restaurant has continued to draw people from near and far into the rapidly improving Hastings and St Leonards area, aiding its transformation from a fish and chips town to a gastronomic hotspot.
Nick helped to pioneer the annual Seafood & Wine festival, held in Hastings’ historic Old Town area every September, showcasing the area’s best produce. The restaurant is under constant development maintaining an ethos to keep everything as local and seasonal as possible, supporting likeminded small businesses while simultaneously making the restaurant as self-sufficient as it can be. Nick undertakes everything from butchering locally sourced meat, poultry and game in-house, to setting up The West Hill Smokery, curing and smoking local meat and fish for use in the restaurant on the continually evolving, seasonally dictated menu.