How I Got Here: Tom Moxon

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Tom Moxon group executive chef at Bone Daddies on 10 years of the ramen chain

Related tags Bone daddies Casual dining Japanese cuisine Multi-site Ramen R200

The group executive chef at Bone Daddies on 10 years of the ramen chain, working with Ross Shonhan, and why he's actively encouraging staff development in areas outside of work.

Why did you get into hospitality?
For a while in my early 20s, after making the difficult decision not to go to university, I fell into a job designing and selling bathrooms! After going through the motions for a year or so, I realised I’d need to find a job that I could connect to on a deeper level. Food had always excited me, so in my usual fashion I jumped in head first and signed up for a professional chef scholarship with Westminster Kingsway College and Zuma restaurant, Knightsbridge.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I had very honest people around me from the start who would frequently tell me how tough and involved this career path would be. I can still recall the first time walking into Zuma, meeting the head chef and him explaining how rewarding the job could be, but mainly how hot the kitchen was and how little sleep I would be getting. So I feel I came into the industry with a good mind of what to expect.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
Neapolitan Pizza is one of my greatest ‘simple’ pleasures in life. For a few years there it became a real passion, eating my way around London, culminating in a trip to Naples to sample and understand it from its source. There are quite a few good options in London for sure, but then Pizzeria Pellone opened up 200m from my front door at the time in Clapham. It was just exceptional, simple, intimate and authentic and has managed to remain constantly so. I now live 45 miles away, but visit when I get the inevitable urge!

What motivates you on a daily basis?
These days I’m motivated by maintaining somewhat of a balance in life. I’ve learnt my character lends to me fixating on things, like work (and pizza), often to my own detriment (and expanding waistband). I now fairly successfully separate out work and personal time, finding I’m much better at both. A game changer for me was spending time being active outdoors, it helps me maintain a broader perspective on life.

What keeps you up at night?
When I have more work on than usual, I do find it hard to switch off at night. My mind often just can’t see how we’ll get from A to B, I have to catch and remind myself it's all within my capabilities. Something I’m often reminded whilst climbing, looking up at a seeming impassable rock face, doubt starting to slip in. It's not until you step closer that the path becomes clear. I still go through this process on a daily basis.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
Chef Ross Shonhan has been my mentor and biggest influence for most of my career, I worked with him for 10+ years. His insistence on a food first approach to restaurants, may seem an obvious one, but it's easy to get off track once you start driving restaurants from a spreadsheet. He showed me to be a stickler for getting the basics correct and how to achieve them consistently through systems and training. It’s no use if a restaurant only runs well when you are in the building.

What time do you wake up?

Coffee or tea?
Black coffee, straight.

How often do you check your email?
It's always on in the background, but I’ve had my phone on silent for years now.

How do you let off steam?
Running; climbing; obstacle races; chasing my nephews around the garden.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
Sofa, by a very wide margin… ha!

What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
Grilled chicken soy ramen - simple and very satisfying.

Typical Sunday?
If the weather is good, ride out to an airfield for lunch. If not, indoor climb followed by a feast, then chill.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
Moved to Tokyo, Japan to live and work as a chef. My best decision to date.

Favourite holiday destination?
A few years back it would have been an easy Japan, these days give me any wild landscape like north west of Wales and I’m happy.

What was your dream job growing up?
I literally had no idea, until I decided to be a chef at around the age of 20.

What's been your best business decision?
Opening our first Bone Daddies ramen bar in Soho on a literal shoe-string budget and being a huge part of the ramen mania wave as it hit London back in 2012. We’d run bigger more complex restaurants in the past, but ramen was completely new. With a small but passionate team we were quickly able to hone our craft from one day to the next.

And the worst?
Once we had grown to six sites with Bone Daddies, there came a point where we all seemed to go from driving and thriving to just about keeping our heads above water. We realised we were trying to apply the same small business mindset to a team of now 250+ employees. Thankfully we were all able to grow and mature through this period and became a lot more agile as a business, but it was a big learning curve.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
I know from experience it’s an industry that rewards dedication and sacrifice, but as counteractive as it may seem, we need to actively encourage our teams to develop in areas outside of work. My personal recommendation would be to broaden the mind through therapy and the body through outdoor sports. This in turn has allowed me to better apply myself in the kitchen, and be a better manager to my team.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
I’d say the industry has moved a long way in the right direction here already, but still we need to get to the place where our people are not faced with 50+ hour work weeks. One of our biggest focuses for years now, has been working with our teams on staff retention, training and promoting from within the business. With a view to improve everyone’s quality of life. The end result is you have happier staff who work hard and enjoy what they do. This translates to the food we serve and ultimately customer satisfaction!


Born in Essex, Moxon completed a professional chef scholarship at Westminster Kingsway College before going on to undertake an apprenticeship at Zuma London. His early career included a stint working in Tokyo, working as a commis chef at the Grand Hyatt. He also undertook a stage at Nagi Ramen. Having returned to London, he joined Novikov as sous chef before helping to launch Bone Daddies in 2012. He has worked for the group ever since, rising through the ranks to eventually become group executive chef in 2021. 

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