The next chapter 6 December 2019 Lexington managing director Julia Edmonds on taking the helm at the boutique caterer and her people plans for the future
In this week's issue... The next chapter Lexington managing director Julia Edmonds on taking the helm at the boutique caterer and her people plans for the future
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The Wizard of woz

01 January 2000
The Wizard of woz

I don't think I have a typical day. I get up between 5am and 8.30am, depending on what I'm doing. If I'm going to Jersey, where I'm a partner in Metro brasserie, I would leave at 6am, but on a relaxing day - which is rare - I would get up after 8am.

I can't call myself lazy, but I am lazy about certain things. There's a rule at home that the last person up makes the bed - and it's usually me.

I don't do breakfast. My breakfast is a cup of tea, although I may sit down with the kids as it is often my only opportunity to see them. I've got two children by a previous marriage and two now.

My time is split between London and Henley-on-Thames, where I live. If I have no appointments I'll work from home or write. I've got a book, The ABC of AWT, coming out in October. It's an alphabetical, ingredients-based recipe book and I've been working on it since before Christmas, but it seems like forever.

If I'm at home, we might try out things for the restaurant. Or I pick vegetables in the garden with my wife, Jay. We have a four-acre plot and there's satisfaction in earning £4,000 for a cookery demonstration and then getting out there, picking veg for the restaurant. Not all the veg comes from the plot, but we are self-sufficient on salad and herbs.

I often do the markets to check they aren't ripping me off. I used to do the buying, but I haven't got the energy these days.

I resist invites to lunch because they ruin the rest of the day. In fact, I don't eat much, despite my roundness. Gardening is my exercise, although I will occasionally walk the dog, and I am about to join a gym. I used to be trim when I had a personal trainer.

My regular TV slots, such as Ready, Steady, Cook, are filmed in batches. I also like doing one-offs and I've just done Antony's Morocco for Carlton Food Network, the cable wing of Carlton. Besides TV, I do a fair bit of radio and I may be getting my own programme.

I do get nervous, even though my parents are both actors. But I see more confidence in myself now. When I started to understand cameras it became a lot easier. Everyone said I was mad to go on Have I Got News For You, but the general consensus was that I came out unscathed.

I wouldn't want to be a total TV chef. I like a balance to keep the excitement. I love writing and the fact that I'm producing organic veg, but I like cooking best. I manage to fit it all in because I have a good wife who organises my diary.

I'm also working on a new restaurant. I'm opening Wiz in Holland Park in August. I can roll Wiz out and expand it, but Woz is more personal - its name is from my nickname, Wozza. I may take Woz into town and make this a veggie Wiz. We are also talking to some people about a restaurant in Oxford.

I'll have dinner at about 6.30pm at home with the kids. I think it's important. My wife cooks and we eat normal English stuff, such as boiled bacon, shellfish and fruit. I'll often dig up veg and eat those with butter. I try to eat healthily and don't drink much - I go for quality, not quantity now, so I probably drink less than the Government recommendation.

Most nights I'm at Woz. I stay in the restaurant until the main courses have gone out and may chat to the customers. If you're a TV chef, customers expect to see you. David Massey is head chef but I can get stuck in without disrupting the routine before 8pm. Good chefing is about delegation and I try not to tread on staff's toes. If I don't eat at home, we'll pop into Riva in Barnes at about 11pm for a bowl of pasta.

I'm not antisocial - you have got to network a bit - but I go to very few openings. I go to Glenfiddich because you know everyone will be there.

If I take time off it tends to be at weekends. We entertain on Sundays. My social circle is not so much restaurateurs - more architects and TV people. You need something new to talk about and a gaggle of chefs can be boring for outsiders.

Occasionally I can be a couch potato and annoy my wife by watching TV in bed to unwind.

Interview by Rosalind Mullen

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