Five minutes with… Ellen Parr

The chef and co-founder of Chinese-inspired pop-up-turned-restaurant Lucky & Joy on Keith Floyd, ginger and the joy of dancing

Food and Drink 5 Mar 2020

Ellen Parr and Pete Kelly, the founders of Lucky & Joy
Dai grilled chicken with sweet herbs
Yunnan smacked cucumber
Yunnan crispy fried kidney beans
Hunan steamed fish

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

I think the best advice I have been given is to learn from your staff: listen to them and their ideas. If you encourage your staff to put on dishes they like and involve them in menu development, it makes the working environment so much better. It’s the best way to get the best out of people and you can learn a lot from them.

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

She will definitely take the piss out of me for this, but I think my friend Becca who runs The Dusty Knuckle Bakery – she has always been super inspirational to me. We used to work together at Moro and always had so much fun in the kitchen. She runs a successful business that is also an incredible social enterprise, while having a young family. I always go to her for any advice in my work and my personal life and she’s also one of my favourite people to have laugh in a pub with. I think she’s taught me how to have fun and work hard at the same time.

What ingredient can you not live without and why?

That’s such a hard question. I think probably the most important ingredient in the Lucky & Joy kitchen is ginger. It’s such a delicious flavour and adds so much depth to basically every dish in different ways depending on how it’s used. But I have to say, personally, I can’t live without lemons. I want to squeeze lemon on everything, I’m addicted.

What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?

I try to make an effort to travel light but always end up overpacking like crazy. I think my most essential item would be some headphones or a speaker. You can always change the mood with a bit of music or a good podcast or audiobook. It makes a long journey fly by.

Where is your favourite place to eat in London?

It’s so hard to choose. I most enjoy relaxed places with unpretentious and tasty food, so it would have to be a tie between Silk Road in Camberwell, the Heron in Paddington, Padella and Le Relais de Venise l’Entrecôte.

What do you like to do on a day off?

I like to go for long walks, eat in one of my favourite restaurants, see my mates and enjoy a glass of wine with lunch.

Apart from food, what are your biggest passions?

I seem to spend all my spare cash on eating out, but I always try and make time to go to the theatre, cinema and to gigs whenever I have time. Nothing makes you feel better than a good dance.

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

Keith Floyd would be so fun. He loved food, loved to drink and was such a laugh, he’s the perfect dinner party guest.

After a run of successful pop-ups across London, Lucky & Joy opened its first permanent restaurant on Lower Clapton Road at the end of 2019,