Five minutes with… Joe Fox

The head chef at the recently opened Townsend on the joy of travelling light, BMX and King Henry VIII

Food and Drink 14 Feb 2020

Joe Fox, Head Chef of Townsend on the left; Nick Gilkinson, Director of Townsend on the right

Joe Fox, head chef of Townsend, left, with Nick Gilkinson, director of Townsend, right

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career? 

Do it for happiness, not money.

Who is your role model and how have they influenced you in your work?

Many people have influenced me over the years – of course, as one progresses in one’s career your role models change. Key personalities who’ve been influential in my career over the past 10 years include Tristan Welch (Parker’s Tavern), Mark Hix (Hix Restaurants), Chris Leach (Manteca) and Dave Bone (Pilgrim). Damian Clisby, currently at Emile, has probably had the biggest influence on me as we worked so closely for six years. We have been through highs and lows together and are still very close.

What ingredient could you not live without?

Butter, it just makes everything taste better.

What item, apart from your passport, could you not travel without

Headphones: very important on those long journeys. I love to travel light, usually just with a The North Face backpack. I’ve had the same one for 10 years.

Where is your favourite place to eat in London?

The original St John in Smithfield has to be my favourite – I always have a good meal there. I love the industrial interiors there; it reminds me of when I lived in a warehouse, the style of the dining room. They have a great selection of wines, although my favourite part is having vodka and sorbet after the meal.

What do you like to do on a day off?

I spend time with my 14-month-old daughter. I love taking her to restaurants and seeing her try new foods. She loves chewing on bones and seafood.

Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?

I rode the professional BMX circuit for 20 years and travelled all over the world. Although I don’t ride as much now, I still have a strong passion for the sport.

If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?

King Henry VIII – if you’ve ever read about the scale of his feasts, you’ll know why.

Townsend at Whitechapel Gallery;