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
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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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