13th April 2016
Interview: Killian Fox
That is such a difficult question. I could say it was Noma for its seamless hospitality, or the elegance I experienced when James Lowe and Elena Reygadas cooked together for The Guest Series at Lyle’s. However, I think it would have to be all the Thanksgivings I have ever had with my family. It’s consistently larger-than-life with lots of antipasti and shrimp cocktails and just too much of everything. The conversation around the table is something I yearn for when I get homesick. This past year was the first without my grandmother and it was so great to be all together to remember her while doing what we do best: eating and drinking.
My mom makes the best caesar salad dressing from scratch and chicken Milanese. When my sister and I were little, we called it “favourite chicken”. To this day, when we go home we ask to have caesar salad and favourite chicken. In fact I am pretty sure they eat it when we aren’t there.
I am a fantastic sous chef. I can’t actually cook terribly well, but if you need a prep monkey, I’m your gal.
It would have to be chicken katsu curry. Even my fiancé Alex, who is a chef [he co-owns Hill & Szrok in east London], said it was the best one yet.
Frank Sinatra. In my family, he is God and he just makes everything better. My grandma used to always say when I was upset, “What does Frank say? That’s life!”, and it would make the biggest problem seem small. Spotify recently added Selections from a Voice on Air (1935-1955) and I love listening to him talk and joke around – it makes me want to hang out with my mom, grandma and Frank drinking red wine.
Parmesan. There is always a chunk of it in the fridge. Il Cudega near Netil Market have a big wheel of it and they do these incredible fluffy shavings. I love it so much that I am begging Alex to get me a West Highland terrier so I can name him Parmigiana Reggiano, Parm for short.
A colander. I love to make pasta so it’s an essential to me, plus I think they are really beautiful as well – can a colander be beautiful?
I am not really a cookbook kind of person, however if my mother were a cookbook than it would be food-splattered. I call her and text her for recipes ALL the time. She was the cook in the house despite my father being a chef, and I am always nagging her for tips and tricks.
Alex taught me to always save some of the pasta water when you strain it to add to your sauce in case it’s too thick. My sauce has never been better.
Italian. Always and forever. I am from New Jersey and even if you’re not Italian, you’re always a little Italian by default. For me it’s everything. Pasta is easy to cook when you’re a poor student or a seasoned professional and it’s really all about using what produce is in season or around you. I love how the menu of Italy can change so much from north to south and for me it always feels like it was cooked with love and family in mind. For my wedding all I want is a big Italian feast, sharing platters and table wine and everyone just talking/yelling at each other.
Sea urchin. I just can’t get my head around it, texturally and flavour-wise. The lovely Leandro Carreira sent me some one evening at his residency in Climspon’s Arch and I tried it because it’s Leo, but I still couldn’t stomach it.
When I was in high school my favourite way to spend a Saturday night in was to watch Pretty Woman and order Chinese food. I love the scene when the snail flies out of the tongs and she just says, “Slippery little suckers”. I am such a calamity Jane so I could sympathise…
Dating an Englishman has meant being introduced to the world of greasy spoons. Now E Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road is up there with one of my favourite places. It’s not a culinary destination by any stretch, but there is something consistent and genuine about it and the family who run it make me very happy. For lunch you’ll probably find me at Lyle’s, I love the way James [Lowe] cooks, his food is very thoughtful and the staff are perfection.
Not being acknowledged. It was hammered in my head at an early age to make certain when you are on the floor to keep your eyes on the guests at all times. It really drives me crazy when I see customers being ignored because the staff is having a chat or just not paying attention.
Can I say all of it? I have no restraint when it comes to food and drink, I will spend more on it than anything else in my life. I just feel like it’s my education for my work and it’s also my passion.
I work for the national charity Magic Breakfast, so I always feel guilty when I miss it, but that is often the case. I always have an Americano with cold milk and, if I remember, a bowl of porridge with lots of fruit.
The Gannet Q&A: Yemisi Aribisala – The Nigerian food writer on an unforgettable slice of New York pizza, roasting her own coffee for breakfast, and her biggest food hero
The Gannet Q&A: Adrian Miller – The award-winning soul food scholar on a recipe that reminds him of his mother, a legendary New Orleans restaurant and his most treasured kitchen object
The Gannet Q&A: Diana Henry – The food writer recalls her favourite ever breakfast, sets out her vision for the perfect restaurant and queries people who say they love offal
The Gannet Q&A: Ed Smith – The food writer on his most dog-eared cookbook, an unforgettable meal he ate on 2 April 2011, and the things that annoy him most about restaurants