food by john lawson

John Lawson is an enigmatic chef who has worked with some of the biggest names in the culinary world including Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsay and Gary Jones. In 2016 a serious health scare prompted John to rethink his journey and focus on the health properties of food. At his new UK venue Food By John Lawson, John is committed to serving Real Food, cooked to nutritionally support the body. Flowerdale Farm was honoured to discuss this very personal journey with John.

Food by John Lawson Food by John Lawson

About John Lawson

Brought up in a small town in Essex, John discovered his passion for food as a young man working at his father's local pub washing dishes. He acquired his diploma at Westminster College and commenced his career at the two Michelin starred Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. His training with Raymond Blanc saw him go on to work in two and three Michelin star restaurants in France, UK, USA and Australia, including Daniel Boulud's Daniel restaurant and the opening of Gordon Ramsey's The London in New York.

After three years in the United States John, looking for this next challenge, became the private chef for The Sultan of Oman. In 2010, John relocated to Australia and took on the role of Head Chef at Gordon Ramsay's Maze Restaurant Melbourne. Following Maze's closure, John led the same premises into a new chapter as Executive Chef of Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar.

John was appointed Executive Chef & partner of No.8 By John Lawson in September 2013. During his time at No.8 John twice achieved a coveted Chef's Hat in The Age Good Food Guide and made guest appearances on MasterChef. "Life could not be better," says John, "I was 32 and living the life I'd dreamed of."

"Everything changed for me in May 2015", explains John "in the middle of the night I had a seizure. I got rushed into hospital where they discovered I had a grade 2 brain tumour." John suffered severe side effects from the seizure and complications from the tumour biopsy which resulted in loss of speech and brain damage. "I was a world-renowned Chef who could not even, when asked, remember the steps to make a cup of tea," says John. "I spent 6 weeks in rehab to get well enough to have the surgery to have the tumour removed".

In October 2015 the tumour was removed successfully and John's recovery began. "I had time to think. I had time to listen to my body. I had time, for the first time, to reflect on my journey. I started to look at Food. I mean, really look" says John. John attributes his on-going recovery to the nutritional value of food he eats. "Food that helps your gut talk to your brain. Brain food that helps your body repair tissues," says John.

In 2016 John made the bold decision to leave his old life in Melbourne behind and return to his family base in Essex. "Within 8 short months, I'd developed a concept and opened a brand-new restaurant in Essex - Food by John Lawson", says John. "I would now like to help everyone benefit from eating wholesome food. And I am not talking about boring tasteless food, I mean REAL food, great produce that will taste amazing."

At Food by John Lawson the focus is on nutrition, with all ingredients sourced from local growers. The menu changes with the daily available produce and is organic, whole and seasonal. "I must challenge my brain to keep it healthy and working properly - that's part of the legacy of my illness - and my unique menu demands that I come up with constantly changing dishes and recipes", says John.

"Cancer free at last. I work just 4 nights a week and I expect my staff to have a great work life balance. It's not about status, it's about substance," says John. "Life is 100% different from 3 years ago. I am still Chef John Lawson, but I am a different one. I still love Food, but, I really love food. It is now a proper relationship. It's not about money, procedures and competition. I aim to educate others about Food; my staff, my clients, about the fuels our bodies need every day to stay healthy."

John has kindly shared with us his recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Fennel and Seeds. Enjoy this recipe at Food by John Lawson, or view it on the Flowerdale Farm website.