Patrick Cox: legendary shoe designer, launcher of night clubs, friend to the stars and now cupcake entrepreneur. The last entry may seem a little tame on such an impossibly glamorous cv as his, but as you might expect from Mr Cox, these are no ordinary cupcakes: they are - like everything he turns his frankly rather fabulous hand to - seriously sexy. As is the sex shop-adjacent Soho store from which they are sold. A riot of black, neon lights (Tracey Emin, thank you very much) and leather studded aprons, Cox Cookies & Cake is definitely something worth talking about, so we did.
Congratulations on Cox Cookies & Cake. You appear well and truly to have sexed-up the world of cake – was that always the plan?
Yes, what I wanted to do was to introduce an element of design - modern design - into it and I think that with all modern design there's definitely an element of sex, so yes, that was always the idea.
Did you always want the shop to be in Soho?
Yes, that was always part of the vision. I wanted to create a sexy Soho brand – in the way that Agent Provocateur is a sexy Soho brand, but something more masculine that really captured the vibe of the area – the clubs, the neon – all that stuff.
You stay open late and you're in a part of town with a certain reputation – any interesting customers or stories you can share?
Not really, no – at least not yet. We haven't had to call the police or ask anyone to leave yet. I was told from the start – don't put in seating, because then you'll get crack whores coming in and sitting down who just won't go – or they'll start doing things in the windows that would be a little too much like Amsterdam or something – so we didn't and it's fine! It's been busy and buzzy, but no problems.
Have you always had a passion for food in general or cake in particular?
Cake in particular. I can barely boil water. I only recently bought a toaster, as I decided it was probably time that I learned to make toast. But my mum baked every Saturday morning when I was little and I was there with her – licking the bowl. With five brothers to compete with, those mornings mum and I had together were a big bonding experience, because it gave us a chance to talk about our week.
I've always been a big chocolate fan – I eat it all the time. Anyone who hangs out with me always ends up getting fat. I normally have a hot chocolate and a cookie for breakfast and during the day I'll have muffins, more cookies – and I never put on any weight – people are always saying they want my blood! Even since opening the shop, I've actually lost a couple of pounds – it must be the stress of it all, I don't know!
Do you have much input into the recipes and cakes that you sell in the shop?
In terms of the look, yes. In terms of the recipes – when I first had the idea for Cox Cookies & Cake ten years ago, I was going to use all my mum's recipes and with the Mrs Nickolchuck's Nanaimo squares we do [Mrs Nickolchuck is none other than Patrick's mum, Maureen] – but as for the rest, it's all Eric [Eric Lanlard, master pâttisier and Patrick's partner in Cox Cookies & Cake]. My mum is loving the name-check and the squares are doing really well – it's very much a Canadian thing – when people come in and ask for them in the shop, we're like: "Are you Canadian?"
Which of your cakes would you most like to receive a dozen of?
I would probably say the Nanaimo squares but I think twelve of those would probably put you in hospital – they're really rich – so I'll say the chocolate chip cookies.
Yes – all of our more "out-there" cakes are mine. I always get people saying, "So when are we going to see the Cox cake then..." (if you know what I mean), but I just don't know – I just keep thinking: "Do I really want to see that on the counter..?!" Not that I have anything against them of course...quite the opposite - it's just a matter of how to make them appealing looking on top of a cake!
Where do you like to shop for food?
I live in Maida Vale and there's this great shop called Raoul's. I'd probably be dead without Raoul. I can go there and get a great salad, some sliced meats, cheeses – sometimes even pasta, as I can just about boil water, and throw together something really good. Honestly, it's only in the last few years that I've even been able to do that.
Which are your favourite restaurants and what is it about them you love?
They're all in Soho. Randall & Aubin – boys and oysters. I don't eat fish, but in the last few years I've learned to like oysters. I don't know about them being an aphrodisiac, but they make me happy.
Great looking boys, lovely girls and oysters - I defy anyone to leave Randall & Aubin in a bad mood.
Then there's El Camion – Mexican - I love Mexican food and after 27 years of living in London and not having anywhere to go for it, about six great places have opened up in the last six months. I'm loving the Mexican renaissance.
What would be your death-row meal?
Oysters, because if you're going to die you may as well be in a good mood, right? Then crispy Peking duck with pancakes – and a burger. I always have to have a burger. Then chocolate Nanaimo bars and a diet Coke – because I'm addicted, and a glass of red wine.
What next for Patrick Cox?
By doing Cox Cookies and Cake, having had a couple of years off from designing, I wanted to rediscover my love of design – by doing everything – the store, the uniforms, the logo, the cakes – everything. And it's worked: it's actually made me want to get back into shoe design, which I'm going to do.
As well as the shoes, we're launching Cox, Cookies & Cake in Harrods in June, which is exciting and there's a Cox, Cookies & Cake cookbook coming out in July. Then we'll put more shops around London, then internationally.
Could you please give us an easy-to-do recipe from the Cox, Cookies & Cake menu?
Yes – it's for the Nanaimo bars and it basically just involves melting things and layering them so it's one that even I can do!
Visit Cox Cookies & Cake at 13 Brewer Street, Soho, London, W1F 0RH or order online at coxcookiesandcake.com
If you're looking for a special Valentine's Day treat, Eric Lanlard will be in store on 14 February personally hand-piping any message you want onto your cupcakes.
½ cup butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ cups graham wafer crumbs
¾ cup fine coconut
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of double boiler or in heavy saucepan. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press firmly into ungreased 9x9 inch pan.
¼ cup butter
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar
Mix custard powder and milk. Cream butter add to custard mixture and icing sugar. Beat at high speed to make it light. Spread over bottom layer.
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
Melt chips and butter over low heat. Cool. When cool but still runny, spread over second layer. Chill in refrigerator. Use a sharp knife to cut (makes 36 squares).