Cooking with Tom Stanley of Cox & Kings
by eric rosen
“One of the best parts of my job is trying food from all over the world,” says Thomas Stanley, COO of the venerable, centuries-old luxury travel company Cox & Kings. He is wielding an enormous Italian pepper grinder, spicing sizzling filets of chicken scallopini in the kitchen of the art-filled Silver Lake home he shares with his partner of 19 years, interior designer Ron Woodson.
Like the journeys he curates and customizes for his well-heeled clients—to more than 86 countries, including exotic locations such as The Democratic Republic of Congo—Stanley’s cooking takes no “usual” route or formula. What he prepares is influenced by the foods he encounters both at home in LA and on the road. His spice rack, a culinary representation of his travels, includes tantalizing souvenirs, such as Uzbek saffron. “The beauty of travel is not just museums and monuments,” says Stanley. “It’s the music, the people, the culture, and the food, which is one of the greatest expressions of culture. Still, I crave my personal comfort foods. There’s something so deeply satisfying about chopping and preparing a delicious—though less exotic—meal. It normalizes me quickly.”
The chicken is one of Stanley’s specialties, which he learned from his mother (who calls the dish Italian fried chicken), and he pairs it with a vintage Amarone indicative of the hearty red wines he loves. “The best food is the simplest food,” says the passionate cook. “When you get fancy, you lose authenticity and flavor.”
With a smile, Stanley recalls that the shelves and pantry of his childhood home were often empty because his mother would shop the local meat and produce markets every day. As a boy, he would help her prepare the family meals, though “usually just chopping the vegetables,” he chuckles.
These days it’s Stanley who visits the Silver Lake Farmers Market when he’s stateside, discovering ingredients he then uses in home-style recipes, including another go-to dish he learned from his mother: a fluffy frittata with layers of fresh vegetables, cheese, and herbs he assembles in the enormous cast-iron pan he calls his most treasured kitchen accoutrement.
“Cooking is like meditating,” says Stanley. “Food is the essence of life, and for me living well is an art form. Creating something that tastes amazing, is healthy, and hopefully looks good on the plate brings me great joy—especially if I can share that meal.”
photography by amy dickerson
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.