In the Hot Seat with Jackson Boxer
Posted on September 24 2019
Jackson Boxer is a cook, professional chef and restauranteur who has just opened a brand new restaurant in the heart of Notting Hill. Orasay, on Kensington Park Road, is a small but perfectly formed restaurant which is full of artistic and rustic touches. The menu, which focusses on fish and seafood inspired by the Western Isles, changes daily to reflect the authentic values of the owner himself.
He's passionate about food and creating a cosy, friendly environment to catch up with family and friends. Jackson comes from a family of creatives, from his grandmother and cookery writer Arabella Boxer, his mother Kate who's art fills the wall of the restaurant, plus his father Charlie and brother Frank both run successful food business, Italo Delicatessen and Franks Cafe respectively.
Jackson's ethos of creating delicious fresh food for the neighbourhood fits perfectly with Yogi's commitment to sustainable and ethical practices. We travelled to West London to catch up with Jackson and find out more about him, where food trends and heading and why Yogi's Caden are the shoes for him.
Describe your personal style:
I find this incredibly difficult. I feel like the older I’ve got, the less I’ve even had to think about what personal style means, which I think is a good thing.
I think it’s very personal. I mean, when I was younger, I really enjoyed thinking about dressing up, and I was very interested in how I presented myself to the world because I think I was very uncertain of who I was. I think the older I’ve got and possibly the less interested in myself I’ve become, the less consideration I give to what I want to look like. But possibly the more natural I am in just being myself.
I think if I was going to have to describe what I am like or what I aspire to be like these days, I aspire I think, as probably a lot of men my age, to a certain effortlessness. To giving the quite correct impression, that I don’t give my personal appearance a huge amount of thought. I think actually it’s like that age-old rule, if you carry yourself with a confidence and self-assurance, you can kind of make anything looks stylish. Or that was the idea anyway.
What was the first item of clothing you bought yourself?
I remember when I was a kid, I loved, and I still have this actually. It was the mid-90s and one of my great musical loves of the time was the band Pulp. And I got this amazing t-shirt. It was just the Pulp logo all over it. I can’t fit in it anymore because I was 10 years old at the time, but I still absolutely treasure that t-shirt.
Do you have any fashion faux pas you’d rather forget?
I’m very good at moving forward, so if there are any major fashion faux pas I’ve ever committed, I have managed to wipe them from my memory. Honestly, probably everything I ever wore as a teenager would look laughable to me now. But you know, you don’t know until you try it right?
What is the oldest item in your wardrobe?
I don’t have a very large or extensive wardrobe, but as I get older I tend to remove, discard and giveaway more things than I accumulate. But I have a beautiful jacket off my Grandfather. And my Grandfather was a very very stylish man. And he was a very dashing figure in 60s/70s London.
And I have a beautiful YSL reeve gauche safari jacket in a grey surge. Which has been almost entirely moth eaten, so it's riddled with moth holes and quite bedraggled. But, I think, even more stylish and chic for it. I don’t wear it very often, but I absolutely treasure it.
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought clothing wise?
When I was in my 20s, I had a bit of thing for clothes. I spent an unwise amount of money on clothes – I collected items of clothing. I had some archival Helmut Lang and archival Raf Simons. Anyway, there’s a pair of jeans from a Japanese designer called Jun Takahashi, who has a brand called Undercover. And it was from one of his early collections called the Scab Collection. And basically, it’s the most ripped up, punk pair of jeans you’ve ever seen stitched together out of its own patches. It’s basically made out of little denim patches. And I don’t know why I thought I could pull them off. But absolutely beautiful works of punk craftsmanship and I love them. I paid, what now is a very reasonable amount of money, like a few hundred quid, but at the time, and I could probably sell them for a fortune now, but I don’t want to, it was probably a few weeks salary I spent on these jeans in my early 20s. I mean I don’t regret it, but it does sound absurd to me now.
How do I style my Yogi shoes?
The thing I love about my Yogi shoes is that I don’t really feel the need to style them. They fit so seamlessly into my wardrobe. As I said, by my age, I am fairly confident about the clothes I wear. And because I work very hard and my work is fairly manual, I wear t-shirts and jeans, I cook in t-shirts and jeans. I wouldn’t say that it’s a uniform because that’s a boring way to think of it. But these are the clothes that have the most utility to me in my creative life. I also have small children who climb all over me and drag me this way and that. And so, having fairly robust, hardwearing clothes is very important to me.
There’s a simplicity to the shoes, but an emphasis on the quality of the workmanship and quality of the material, which makes it work really well with really well-made denim jeans. And that makes them feel like a perfectly natural fit for me.
What do your Yogi shoes say about you?
Ultimately, there’s always been this idea that a man’s taste in shoes somehow betrays some deep underlying truth about him. You know ‘you can judge a man by what he’s wearing on his feet’. I’m not sure what these shoes say about me, but I know what I feel about these shoes, and they make me feel great and that’s the most important thing.
What were you wearing in the 90s?
I wasn’t wearing radically dissimilar clothes to what I wear now. I wore jeans and t-shirts with probably a slightly baggier cut than I do now. And I was wearing shoes that look very similar to these Yogi’s. I used to love my Clarks shoes as a kid, sadly I don’t think they are very well made anymore these days, so I don’t wear them very much. But I worse shoes that looked quite similar to these Yogi shoes which is one of the reasons why I like them so much. I was born in 1985 so the 90s was a decade of rapid change for me. I went from 5-15, which covers quite a lot of different periods of my life. For me, the 90s musically, there was a lot of music I listened to as a kid that I don’t
What will you be wearing this Spring/Summer?
I love spring summer because I can ride my motorbike in nothing but a t-shirt and jeans and boots and feel the wind in my face. For me, summer is all about wearing as little as possible and feeling the wind, that’s a beautiful feeling for me. So, a little bit of that. Maybe sandals on a nice day.
What fragrance do you wear?
I love fragrance. As someone who works with food I am very preoccupied by the way things smell. But also as someone who works with food I smell very bad myself. I spend a lot of my time in hot, sweaty, fryer-oil dense environments. So, wearing scent is not something just personal for me but it’s something I do for people around me, so they don’t have to suffer. The scent I am wearing most at the moment is Comme des Garçons Wonderoud. Which is an oud scented version of their Wonderwood fragrance, which I love. I love oud. It’s a middle eastern fragrance made from like a fermented resin and it’s kind of cheesy, smoky, funky and sweet and pungent and it’s a very unusual scent which masks an awful lot of evil which is good for me.
Who are your style hero’s past and present?
Well I certainly can’t think of any present style heroes. But someone for me who I think is an underrated style icon, or maybe not underrated, but Samuel Beckett, the playwright and writer, was an incredibly stylish man. Whenever I see a photo of him I always think what a beautiful stylish man he was. My great pleasure when I am exhausted and can’t really function is to watch old movies. So like Alain Delon or Marcello Mastroianni and even Cary Grant, I think you know, these are very stylish men.
Who is the best dressed nation?
That is a really interesting question! I personally think that almost every single wealthy, overdeveloped country I have ever been to tends to be poorly dressed. The people wear lots of cheap knockoff, high street, high turnover, trend led fashion, which I think looks not only incredibly bland but also innocuous and cheap.
The nations where I am always impressed by how beautifully people are dressed tend to be hotter and less materially rich cultures, where first of all the people make a lot more of a statement with a lot less, but also because they’re dressing for incredible intense heat tend to wear beautiful more traditional styles of clothing, which they wear with enormous sense of confidence and assurance. That sense of coherent culture, with the way that say a desert herdsman will dress in a very hot climate, with beautiful drapes and hand dyed cottons and fabrics I think is incredibly stylish and striking and remarkable.
I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint any one nation I consider being particularly well dressed, but I do consider most of the European nations to be particularly badly dressed.
What are you cooking at the moment this autumn / winter?
Ultimately, one of the great pleasures of being a cook is observing the seasons. It’s partly because we never get bored because there’s always something new about to become available. Every point of the season there’s something new and exciting to work with. But also, because as the weather changes, peoples taste changes. Its less about what people don’t want to eat in a certain climate, but what they get excited about eating. When the weather starts getting colder, people suddenly get real cravings for beautiful, rich, concentrated, deep flavours.
For me, winter is about woody flavours, mushrooms, the end of the game season and truffles – there’s so many fun things to play with and get excited about. Yeah, the days start to draw in and are shorter, but it means the nights are longer, so you can start eating earlier and eat for longer. And also, because you’re wearing so many layers no one can see how fat you’re getting so its great!
And what will you be cooking in summer?
Summer is a mixed blessing for a cook, because people definitely eat less, but they do eat more widely. The beautiful thing about cooking in summer is that people love the variety of summer. You’ve got the beginning of the fruit season and also very delicious summer fish like lobster and crab. People tend to really like clean, bright, sharp flavours. Which, as a cook is exciting to work with, because there are so many different dynamics you can bring to the palette like freshness, crunch, vitality, brightness, cleanness, minerality. You’re composing this myriad of different taste sensations on the table, everything is fun. And it’s also a very tactile eating style because everything’s quite firm and crunchy, it’s things you want to touch and hold and feel, whereas in winter people want to spoon things in more.
Summer, you get this really lovely tactile way of eating where people want lots of things on the table to pick at. The variety of summer is just extraordinarily exciting. And if people kind of slightly simplify their lives and eat less, they tend to eat more broadly which is nice.
Which Yogi shoe will you be wearing next summer?
My tobacco Caden’s definitely. I love this shoe, it’s so comfortable! I mean I can still wear them in winter, but in summer, the bright yellow pair I have are so fun and easy, and I can knock about in the park with them. But also, they’re a great city shoe and really breathable and nice and light. It feels like an extension of my foot in a really nice way.
Even though Jackson loves his Caden's, we have plenty of other designs to suit any and everyone's style. Shop them here.