Nick was born and raised on Ashdown Forest in Sussex and from an early age spent most of his time grubbing about in the woods, wild camping, fishing and shooting. Influenced largely by early morning viewings of Les Hiddens AKA. Bush tucker man, Nick gradually got into wild food with the help of his mother and her willingness to teach him how to cook the rabbits, pheasants and trout that found their way into the kitchen.
At 18, he spent 6 months travelling with a surfboard and fishing rod though southern Africa and the South Pacific learning as many local traditions for hunting and cooking as he could. Nick went on to study Archaeology at Newcastle University, where he specialised in Hunter-gatherer studies and the Mesolithic.
In 2008, Nick was selected for the position of Survival Expert for the Channel 4 Series ‘Shipwrecked’ and spent 3 months living in the Cook islands teaching fellow islanders everything from making fire from scratch to building shelters and hunting & gathering for food.
On return to the UK, Nick built a tree house in a quiet Sussex wood from recycled and natural materials and then lived in it and off the fat of the land for the following 6 months completely off-grid. Hunting, fishing and foraging along with a few basic staples and small vegetable patch provided him with a rich, varied diet and self-sufficient lifestyle which would go on to form the ethos of Hunter Gather Cook. A book about his experience ‘The Tree House Diaries: How to live wild in the woods.’ was published by Anova in 2010.
Since then Nick now writes for a variety of newspapers and magazines about all things wild, from food to treehouses: Reader’s digest, The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Living woods Magazine, Outdoor adventure guide and Backwoods magazine in the USA.
Hunter Gather Cook was established in March 2011 with the construction of the HQ. Nick’s vision was to create a ‘Hunter-Gatherer’ school that blended a mixture of foraging, animal butchery, cooking and bushcraft with an emphasis in living comfortably in the great outdoors and creating high-end dishes using wild produce.
Nick is also sponsored by Element, the biggest skatebrand in the world, and is involved with their advocate program teaching wilderness skills on skatecamps across Europe and consulting on all things wild. Element also sponsor HGC ensuring we always have the best-dressed instructors!
Dave grew up in the High Weald of Sussex in the sleepy village of Ardingly. As a child he was free to roam the surrounding fields and woods. Dave has been lucky enough to live and work in many far-flung places. Including the high Sierras of California – where he learned avalanche safety and rescue.
At 24, he took a position as a chalet chef in the Haute Savoie and discovered his love of cookery. Over the following 5 years he worked in various resorts as a chef and guide, exploring the more remote areas of the mountains in his spare time.
In the periods between the snow seasons, Dave indulged his love of the outdoors and spent every available weekend exploring the wider Sussex countryside by boat and on foot. Feeling the need expand his culinary repertoire he began learning about wild plants and experimenting with them in the kitchen. Soon acquiring a strong knowledge of the edible plants throughout Sussex and writing about his discoveries on his blog www.foragesussex.com
In 2012 Dave joined the HGC team as part of the kitchen division & forager and has been perfecting the art of outdoor cookery & smokery ever since.
To fulfil Dougy’s dreams of playing with wild food, he joined HGC’s kitchen division in 2014. Dougy is quite the wizard when it comes to plating up and never fails to deliver stunningly beautiful dishes to everyone who visits Hunter Gather Cook. He has also got a good set of green fingers and him and Head chef Dave can often be found discussing the benefits of cut and come again in the Tree house Kitchen.
He also runs his own company in central London (www.robertsoncatering.com) as a private caterer, tutor and food stylist.
Dustin grew up fishing with his father, building underground dens, exploring caves and stalking wild boar in the countryside near his family home in Luxembourg, Dustin developed a real passion for the great outdoors. His love for the natural environment was enhanced further when he enrolled in the Beavers, followed by Cubs, Scouts and on to complete his Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Having moved to the UK to pursue a better education, he later lived a hunter-gather lifestyle in the ‘wilds’ of Cornwall. His wealth of knowledge on bushcraft, survival techniques and a real understanding of the sea and how to harvest from it sustainably stems from spending several years of self-sufficient farming, foraging, owning boats, sailing, potting for crabs & lobsters as well as spear fishing for anything tasty (preferably Bass) on the Helford Estuary.
Writing for several bushcraft publications and sharing his knowledge of all things outdoors encouraged him to start his own business; in 2008 Dustin created bushcrafttools.com where over the years he has developed his own product, the Fire Piston (a survival fire-lighting tool). Attending several shows every year to promote his business and provide bush craft courses to the public caused a chance meeting between Nick at Wilderness Gathering at HGC’s first show where a mutual love for fishing formed a firm friendship.
Dustin has worked together with Hunter Gather Cook on numerous occasions and joined the Hunter Gather Cook team in 2014 as our resident “Fire master”, teaching all our course attendees how to wield man’s greatest discovery both in the camp and in the kitchen. His favourite imotto is: ‘Know more, Carry less’.
Elliot grew up in Tunbridge Wells and spent most of his teenage years in the Kentish woodland riding downhill mountain bikes with friends. Although unaware of the wild food around him at the time, coming from a family obsessed with food and spending so much time in the great outdoors, a fascination with foraging and wild food was the natural progression.
Elliot , fresh out of studying Physical Geography at the University of Exeter, specialising in climate change and environmental reconstruction using peatland proxies, is the latest member of the HGC crew epitomising the very ethos of HGC- Fresh, young and seasonal.
It wasn’t until going on a professionally guided mushroom walk at the end of his first year of Uni that he became hooked on wild food. This passion continued throughout his second year, spending as much time as possible learning about the wild larder and understanding how to use it in the Devonshire countryside
By third year, Elliot had developed a proficient knowledge of edible wild foods and setup a University affiliated foraging society called ‘Food For Free’, where he took guided walks around Exeter teaching members about edible and poisonous plants & fungi, organised fishing trips, picked oysters, clams, cockles and mussels in the Exe Estuary. Needless to say, dinnertime was never boring – not a Pot Noodle in sight!
After graduating, Elliot pursued his love of food by working as a chef for last 6 months, before joining our kitchen division at Hunter Gather Cook HQ in Jan 2014. He is currently the undisputed champion of wild slaws…sadly, he has left us for 3 months to go and train at Noma in copenhagen. Mind you, someone has to get him up to scratch.
Elliot documents his wild food exploits on his awesome blog;
B was born in November 2013, a Norfolk Terrier X Jack Russell from Firle Village, Sussex. After 7 months of intensive training from the tender age of 10 weeks by Nick, the Ferret (nickname) graduated to full blown truffle doggie in August 2014 with a find of 5 perfect Sussex summer truffles (tuber aestivum) – partly due to the wonderful guidance of the Truffle Queen Melissa Waddingham. B dog has a wonderful personality- very excitable and can often be found on HGC courses chewing on venison bones that she has some how managed to find. Clever ferret…