Chef Jeremy Fox has been somewhat of an enigma on the West Coast dining scene for years now. As a 2008 Food & Wine Best New Chef contender and executive chef at Napa’s Ubuntu, Fox made a Northern California name for himself by attributing his laser focus to vegetable-only cuisine. But with his propensity for zeroing in on dishes, techniques and ingredients came a seemingly gruff exterior and rumors that Fox couldn’t land a job after leaving Napa.
The Spring 2015 issue of Lucky Peach dives deep into the heart and head of Fox, who is now enjoying a resurgence at Santa Monica’s Rustic Canyon (as well as on Instagram) and the view that others have held about the enigmatic chef. It’s definitely a worthwhile read, chronicling Fox’s early life, his personal struggles, and the successes and failures that have surrounded him without defining him.
Here are the five craziest quotes from the piece, as told by Fox himself.
Fox didn’t finish college at Johnson & Wales because he was held at gunpoint the day before his final. "I had a Jeep Wrangler with soft doors that didn’t have locks. All of a sudden, two guys jumped in, one in the front, one in the back, put a gun to me, made me drive to an ATM." Fox was forced to drive to his apartment, where the two ransacked the place and he was able to escape.
His intense focus while working at Ubuntu was clinically manic. "I would later find out that the entire time was a manic episode, which had to end at some point, and it did."
Ubuntu’s same day, hyper fresh approach got them in trouble with the law. "There was very little refrigeration. We were getting killed by the health department. After less than a year of being open, we had to close down for a little while, and we spent $150,000 on a new kitchen to handle it."
And the pressure to stay on top almost killed him. "I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I had lost about forty pounds, literally going days without sleeping, and working on a cookbook that never happened. I probably would have died if I had kept going much longer."
Eventually, Fox’s departure from Ubuntu (and other failed ventures before landing at Rustic Canyon) can be at least in part attributed to medication. "I ended up going to a psychiatrist. I had never had any sort of therapy, but I ended up on a really weird combination of medications, and really didn’t understand what they were doing to me."
Purchase a copy of Lucky Peach here to read the entire piece.