Enter the Culinary World of Jackson Boxer
6 December 2018
If there was ever such a thing as a culinary dynasty in London - then Jackson Boxer would be the crowned prince. Grandson of the legendary food writer Arabella Boxer and the Sunday Times’ founder Mark Boxer, and son of Charlie Boxer owner of Kennington’s most-loved Italian deli; Jackson Boxer has set out to create his own culinary legacy. With the success of Brunswick House, and the newly opened St.Leonards Restaurant already being rhapsodised by food critics the world over, it’s clear that he is well on his way.
In conversation with Jackson, we talk about how he keeps himself on his toes, his favourite London restaurants, and the fateful summer afternoon which spurred the creation of St.Leonards. A quick chat with Jackson reveals that food is so much more than a career but in fact, an integral part of his character. The way Jackson Boxer talks about food, is like how a poet would speak to his lover. There is no holding back his absolute passion for the craft, and how it is inextricably linked to his life, and the people who inhabit it. No wonder he is being hailed as one of London’s buzziest young chefs. Because at 33, Jackson Boxer, crowned prince of the boxer culinary dynasty, is ready to be king.
You come from such a strong culinary background. Was there ever one moment that made you fall in love with food growing up?
I'm not sure actually! I’ve always loved food, and was very greedy, but took it for granted. It was only when I got a bit older and found myself far from home, deprived of anything resembling love, that food took on profound emotional significance for me
In what ways does your family inspire your own culinary style?
I try to think of every meal in terms of family and in terms of the love and generosity of spirit that my parents represent. I also think of cooking as a beautiful sacrifice. I try to give as much of myself as possible. I figure that the more care and love I put into the process, the better the end result. Much like my experience of being a son, and much like my experience  now of being a father.
We heard that the idea behind St.Leonards Restaurant came about during ‘a very drunken lunch’ — could you tell us a little bit more about the story behind this?
Our farm in the country is a wonderful retreat from London, work, and all its pressures and pains. It’s where I do my favourite cooking. Andrew and I were feeling overworked and uninspired, and decided to blow off service one day and recuperate. We took a large rib section of particularly good bee from our fridge, an enormous brill, some beautiful crabs and shrimp, and absconded to the country. Here, we set about lighting a big fire and slowly roasted both the food and ourselves in the blazing sunshine and cold white wine. It was a thoroughly memorable day, time seemed to slow measurably, and the good feeling and conviviality was abundant. We thought it would be lovely to open a restaurant which embodied these values.
In what ways do you push the boundaries and try to be ‘less ordinary’ with what you do?
We all get bored. I get bored of cooking the same thing. I get bored of eating the same thing. Familiarity breeds comfort, but also contempt. It's important to keep yourself on your toes, and the same goes for your guests. The produce we use, the way we cook (slowly over a log fire); and the combination of flavours and textures, are all unusual and extraordinary. Ultimately our aim is to be delicious, and I hope we have achieved that.
Is there a particular foodie neighbourhood that you are drawn to?
East Ham remains my favourite neighbourhood for exploration. There is such a wonderful and diverse array of subcontinental cuisines, and it represents a lot of what I absolutely treasure about London.40 Maltby StreetLyle's
What trusted ‘less ordinary’ place in London do you find yourself going back to time and time again? 
I think 40 Maltby Street still flies under the radar somewhat. I've never had a less than wonderful time there.
Aside from your own restaurants — where does a chef like you go out to dinner?
There is very little that gives me more pleasure than working in my restaurants, but I don’t really enjoy dining in them. I take pride in the quality of my cooking, but my capacity for endless self-criticism means it's not a restorative experience. My favourite places in London to eat are Quo Vadis, St John, & Lyles, as these are the restaurants I visit the most. My dad's deli in Vauxhall, Italo, is up there, too.
With the competition so high in London - what does a restaurant need to stand out from the rest?
Idiosyncrasy and authenticity. We're all gorgeous weirdos running restaurants, and they should be reflective of that. I'd say my dad's shop is perhaps the greatest example of this.Italo Deli
Is there any place in particular place on your wish-list that you want to check out, but haven’t had the chance to yet?
I haven't been to a new opening in London in ages. Since opening St. Leonards I really haven't stopped, so there is such a huge backlog of amazing places in town on my radar that I haven't yet made it to. Given the first opportunity, I would really like to go down to visit the boys at the Fordwich Arms, who are both tremendous people and exceptional talents, and are by all accounts, absolutely crushing it.
Interview by Hannah Tan-Gillies 

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