Meet Joe Fox who is our Group Executive Head Chef at Firmdale Hotels. His passion for cooking was inspired at an early age by both of his parents. Their enthusiasm and happiness in the kitchen was contagious and for Joe, family mealtimes were always fun. Joe has worked closely with community farms and through becoming a beekeeper, his passion for organic and sustainable practices came to light. Joe has been part of our Firmdale family for a year and we are mesmerised by his cooking. Crafting menus for our London restaurants, Joe draws inspiration from seasonal produce with a focus on sustainability. Working with local producers and trusted suppliers that have a similar ethos in supporting low impact food, his dishes are influenced by British cooking with a contemporary flair.
For the first time, we will be bringing Ham Yard Restaurant to Frieze Masters. From 12th to 16th October, visitors can enjoy all-day brasserie style dining from a menu featuring seasonal ingredients celebrating the late summer harvest with dishes served on Kit’s Mythical Creatures fine bone china collection for Wedgwood. The interior is being designed by our very own Design Studio with banquette seating upholstered in Chubby Check and table cloths in our Tea Leaf fabric, both for Christopher Farr Cloth. We can’t wait to share the restaurant’s design with you – watch this space! Joe says: “We are looking forward to presenting some exciting seasonal dishes as an extension of Firmdale Hotels’ locally sourced menus. Visitors can expect dishes including Portland crab with chopped hen’s egg and autumn squash with celery, walnut and ‘feta’ salad”.
Join us as we have a chat with Joe, ahead of this very special occasion…
How did you discover your passion for cooking?
I have always cooked at home with my parents but when I finished school, I experienced a professional kitchen. My first job was at the Nutfield Priory in Surrey, a 5 star hotel and I remember the kitchen feeling so big. There was so much going on and I would say my passion started there. The fridge was full of produce including crayfish, stunning sea bass and Dover sole. I remember spotting chocolate canapes on the top shelf and fighting the temptation to eat them! I have strong cooking memories with mum, from baking cakes to making dinners. Apparently at the age of 7, I made spaghetti bolognese without any help.
What is your personal cooking style?
My personal and professional cooking style is very similar. I always focussed my career towards British seasonal dishes with classic techniques. I love using the most seasonal ingredients. You will always find the best flavours. Over time, my style has become less complicated with a focus on the key ingredients – my goal is to always create elegant and light dishes with big flavours and lots of colour.
Where do you get inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from many places. I find seasons direct my inspiration. Travelling and eating out are important to me. I love to experience other cultures and see what other chefs are creating. I buy a lot of old cookery books from charity shops. You always find hidden gems. I recently bought ‘Wild Food from Land and Sea’ by Marco Pierre White and ‘700 years of British Cooking’ by Maxime McKendry. They are both full of inspiring recipes and dishes. I have so many food heroes, but to list a few: Marco Pierre White, Alain Passard, Keith Floyd, Mark Hix and René Redzepi.
What is your favourite dish at the moment?
This is a tricky question as there are so many great dishes across our restaurants. My personal favourite is our Baked Scallops with Nduja Butter – this is a simple dish and the flavours work together beautifully. During the summer months I loved making the Crab Salad in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
We loved hearing from Joe about how his cooking styles have evolved. Just like us, he gets inspiration from travelling and isn’t shy to celebrate the joy of colour through his creations. Thank you for joining us and we hope you’ll get a chance to visit us this October at Frieze Masters. We would love to welcome you to this exciting rendezvous!