Joshua Lawton has been cooking professionally for 15 years, from Boston to Asheville, covering everything from Vietnamese fusion to French cuisine to Southern comfort food. “They are all equally as elegant and satisfying if done correctly,” he says. Currently, he is the chef at The Over Easy Breakfast Cafe in downtown Asheville. “We have a tiny kitchen but a ton of heart, creativity, and integrity,” he says, “and we put out a great product with minimal space and equipment. It’s kind of like a ship’s galley.” When Lawton isn’t cooking on a six-burner or playing Mr. Mom, he says that he’s “a part time poet, songwriter, gardener and visual artist. A little bit of each of these goes into the food I create.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Self-sufficiency.
What is your inspiration? Those moments in life when I feel closest to the source.
Which person, alive or dead, do you most admire? Hugh Boyd, urban saint, sculptor, sage and small batch bourbon connoisseur.
What is your guiltiest pleasure? The Boston Red Sox.
What is the quality you most like in a person? Honor. No one can truly define it, but everyone knows what it is.
What is your current state of mind? Flattered. I must’ve braised something right at some point.
What is the quality you least like in a person? Self-absorption. If you have nothing to contribute to those around you, I can barely even see you.
Which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to play piano, or be a master fly fisherman.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My children. That one’s easy.
What would you choose to be if you were to be reincarnated? Cthulhu.
What would you cook for the President? Two dishes. The first, braised veal cheek with parsnip puree, seared pea tendrils, and black cherry gastrique. The second, a mean cheeseburger and fries. I bet he’d pick the latter.
Who would you most like to have dinner with? A year ago I would have said Kurt Vonnegut, but now probably Tom Waits.
What is your favorite culinary tool? An eight-inch round tip, straight set spatula, or a rubber pastry scrape.
What quality do you most value in your friends? Consistency. I’ve had most of my close friends for almost twenty years. They are a huge part of who I am.
Who is your favorite chef? Bill Klein at Fig Bistro, Asheville.
Who is your favorite writer? Herman Hesse, Jose Saramago, Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Who are your heroes in real life? My wife, Amanda, and my Grandmother, Shirley.
What food could you not live without? Butter. Salt. Pork in any form.
What music could you not live without? This is the hardest question. How do I narrow it down? Dylan, David Allen Coe, Slayer. A million more.
How would you like to die? With my boots on.
How would you like to live? As freely and without judgment, resentment, or remorse as possible.
What is your motto? Look good, feel good — that’s what I always say.