Jackson Boxer is the celebrated chef behind London restaurants Brunswick House and Orasay – and the co-owner of the newly opened Below Stone Nest bar. He started young, writing his first cookbook aged six (copies: one) and opening Brunswick House at 23. Inspiration came, in part, from his foodie-royalty family: his dad owns Vauxhall’s Italo Deli, his brother Frank opened his namesake Campari bar in Peckham, his grandmother Arabella was a renowned food writer, and his godfather is larger-than-life Quo Vadis chef Jeremy Lee. We swung by before service to chew the fat…
Quote to live by
Cook Free Or Die. Anthony Bordain inscribed this on the inner sleeve of my copy of Fergus Henderson’s Nose To Tail the first time I met him. I was 17. It made a big impression.
Accent or language that turns you on
Anything honest and insightful. Always the content, never the form.
Book that shaped you
I was a shy and bookish kid, and everything I read as a teen had an outsized influence on my character at that time. I’m less malleable now, though since my mid-thirties I’ve started to read again with great appetite. However the book with the most significant influence on my life is probably French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David, which gave articulation and direction to my fascination with food, and thrust me towards the kitchen.
I really don’t think there’s a good answer to this, as it’s the art I really love, not the artist, and few makers of great art also manage to be great people, so I’ll hedge my bets by offering Samuel Beckett, who I’ve always admired as a writer of genius, and a decent and compassionate human.
I most regularly visit the National Gallery, where I have an annual pass, to allow me to queue jump whenever I want. Considering the quality and depth of the collection, it’s always mercifully underpopulated, certainly when compared to the Tate and the RA. I tend to find myself drawn to the mediaeval wing, to contemplate its divine and alien beauty, and the room full of Rembrandt’s self portraits, to meditate on my own rapidly aging and unbeautiful form.
Below, the dive bar under Cambridge Circus, with cheap drinks and beautiful music, which we opened last year.
Warm toast, cold butter.
I’m sober, but will never not fancy a Campari soda.
Most memorable meal
The first time I ate at St John, I was probably around 12. I thought it was the chicest, most glamorous room I’d ever been in, so full of laughter, energy and abandon. In some ways I never left.
Architecture that awes you
Anything large that makes me feel small.
Best vintage/antique find
I have some beautiful old fashioned copper canelé moulds I’m very pleased with which I picked up in a flea market for nothing about a decade back.
Homewares you hunt while travelling
I have far too much stuff as it is, however I’ll never stop collecting old cookbooks.
Interiors you envy
I’m not sure that envy is the word exactly, but Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge made a big and permanent impression on me when I was young.
Design decade you feel at home in
All design makes me uncomfortable and self-conscious, stick me in a troglodyte’s cave and I’ll make myself right at home.
How do you unwind?
Your must-pack outfit
Suitable footwear. I hate being unable to go for serious long exploratory walks in a new habitat.
City you’d move to
Strangest hotel experience
All hotels feel strange to me. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be such a treat.
Best place you’ve ever swum
I spent my childhood swimming in the Outer Hebrides, and the first time I got taken on holiday anywhere hot was to Stromboli, when I was 14. Swimming at night in the warm phosphorescent sea ruined me forever. I do now still swim in Scotland, but I’m much more acutely aware of what I’m missing.
Best beach you’ve ever found
Again, the reason I love the Hebrides is there’s no one else there. Every beach feels like a unique discovery.
@account to follow
Shola Olunyolo – @studiokitchen – a really smart and insightful cook, constantly pushing down new and intriguing avenues of flavour.
Pool or ocean
Define love in three words
Sacrifice without martyrdom.
Define sex in three words
Desire without ego.
Jackson was photographed at his Brunswick House restaurant by Louis AW Sheridan.