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Two minutes with Joe Howley, Passo

Published 18 December 2019

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This week we chat to Joe Howley, head chef at Italian restaurant and wine bar Passo. He speaks about starting in the kitchen at 14, what’s next for Passo and why Australia is exciting for hospitality.

When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality?  

My first job in a kitchen was when I was 14 years old. It was a small restaurant in Hackney called Frocks, and I remember being completely fascinated by how the kitchen worked, how everyone organised themselves, and just the general process of how the food ended up getting from the kitchen to the customer… from then on I was hooked. 

Where and how did you get your start? 

After my introduction into the industry I looked for a place to develop. My school teacher recommended that I take a Saturday catering course for under 16 year olds at Walthamstow College. It was there that I was shown more of what life in catering is about. After I finished the course I won the junior chef of the term award after and I thought to myself “I may actually be quite good at this!!” 

Sum up your current work life in one sentence. 

I see this as a brand new challenge for me and something out of my comfort zone. I really think this could be the right  platform to do something really great!   

Who has been really influential on your career and why? 

My family have been and always will be a huge part of my drive and career ambitions. I want to make my children proud of me when they grow up and give back to everyone in my family for all their patience and encouragement over the years. 

What’s next for you? 

I am really excited to see where the Passo adventure takes me.  I’m excited to put my head down and work hard to make Passo the best it can possibly be. 

What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out? 

Never give up and always be as positive as you can be. It’s a long day in a kitchen and if you start in a negative way it’s only going to become longer for you and everyone else around you. 

Where did you last have a great meal?  

Unfortunately I don’t get to eat out very much anymore, due to entertaining the little ones, but the last restaurant I ate at was Galvin at Windows and it was really good value for money. 

Are there any openings you are looking forward to? 

Looking forward to seeing how Daffodil Mulligan develops by Richard Corrigan next door. It’s been open a couple of weeks and sounds exciting. It should give more people an excuse to visit the area and try Passo as well. 

Where is the most exciting city for hospitality (aside from London)? 

The best food culture I have experienced outside the UK is Australia, Sydney in particular. There are so many amazing restaurants, everyone is much more into eating out, the competition is fierce and there’s so much variety.  

Who would you identify as a rising star? 

My junior sous chef at Passo is a very young extremely talented kid. His name is Chris Phillips and I’ve worked with him for the last couple of years. He’s destined for great things.  

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