By Zoe Robinson
We are hugely privileged to be joined by Joe Fox, senior sous-chef at Hix Soho, who will be cooking up a storm on Friday 6th June at a very special Sutton Community Farm VegBox Dinner at The White Lion. Joe will also be running a cooking demo at the Sunday Food Fair on the 8th – quite a contrast to the busy kitchen in Hix Soho, one of six central London restaurants run by celebrated chef and food writer Mark Hix.
Prior to the two years Joe has spent with Mark Hix, he worked with renowned chef Tristan Welch at Michelin-starred Launceston Place in South Kensington. Keen to get an insight into Joe’s gastronomic prowess, we asked him to tell us more about why he is supporting Streatham Food Festival and whether he can offer us any top cooking tips:
What do you think is so special about cooking with local, seasonal food?
This has many factors: we should all be eating local seasonal food as the ingredients are at their best and don’t have to travel long distances.
What made you decide to get involved in the festival?
We use Sutton Community Farm produce at Hix and have had a couple of trips down to the farm. I really like what they are about and what they produce so I wanted to help promote them.
At the festival you will be cooking a three-course meal using the contents of the farm’s weekly VegBox. What are the challenges (and opportunities) of creating a menu without knowing in advance what ingredients you will have to work with?
I wouldn’t say I don’t know in advance when working with seasonal produce, as each year the same produce comes around, just sometimes they are a little earlier and sometimes later. The challenges are creating a menu with the items which are available and have grown in time.
The menu on the night promises to be vegetarian – what is your favourite veggie dish and how would you sell it to a staunch meat-eater?
I’ve been eating a lot of asparagus lately and one of my favourites is to quickly fry in a really hot pan with a squeeze of lemon juice, a tiny sprinkle of chilli flakes and a drop of soya sauce. It’s so simple and speaks for itself.
There is huge diversity of cultures represented amongst Streatham’s restaurants, cafes and grocers. Do you have a favourite regional or national cuisine?
I love Vietnamese chicken pho (noodle soup) I eat a lot of Asian food. Spanish food is especially good at times.
Which three ingredients could you not live without?
That’s a very tough question and if you ask in month’s time I’m sure it would be completely different. So for the moment I choose asparagus, a good quality chorizo and, after a lot of thought I think it’s going to be the humble potato…there’s just so much that you can do to a potato!
Can you recommend a simple recipe for those moments when you want to impress your guests but are short of time in the kitchen?
I think question 3 could answer this – the asparagus dish.
Do you remember the first meal you ever cooked, and what or who inspired you to become a chef?
I can remember making beef pie, boiled potatoes and mushy peas – I had to stand on a chair so I could reach the counter. I can’t pin point who inspired me to become a chef but have always loved being in a busy kitchen.