I’ve always been fascinated by how humans have turned food, one of life’s necessities, into a deep enjoyment and a social event. To facilitate nourishing the body and soul by sharing great food with friends and family I feel is a great way to spend your life.
Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
I’ll let you know when I’ve started it!
What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants (besides your own)?
My favourite restaurant is Da Enzo in Trastevere in Rome, a small trattoria serving the best Roman dishes, great carafes of house wine and seasonal specials, cheap as chips and always exceptional. My favourite pizzeria is L’Altro Buco in Bisceglie near my wife’s home in Puglia, very similar to Da Enzo there’s no bells and whistles, super cheap and delicious pizza, thin as a crisp, and an incredible array of starters including potato, scamorza and ham puree and a baked tomato and pesto gnocchi. With an ice cold beer on a 38 degree summers evening it’s a great place to be.
What motivates you?
Creating a place that will give others memories like I have with those restaurants, that makes them want to come back for more and to choose to pass the time with their close friends and families at our place.
What keeps you up at night?
Absolutely everything: have I bought carafes? Is the EPOS system set up? Have I ordered cheese for next week?
What time do you wake up?
6am because I have a two year old.
Coffee or tea?
How often do you check your email?
Always, I hate not being replied to so I always reply to everyone else.
How do you let off steam?
Running; taking my daughter to the playground; drinking beer with friends.
Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
A night on the tiles because that’s a distant memory from two years ago, pre-baby.
What’s your signature dish to cook at home?
My wife is Italian so we get through a lot of pasta, Amatriciana, probably - for me the tomato, pork and chilli combo can’t be beat.
Favourite holiday destination?
What are you currently reading?
Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
I couldn’t name one, like raising a child it definitely takes a village! Amy Newbury and I ran a pop-up restaurant/jazz club a few years ago and she’s one of those people that just knows what to do in every situation, and has been so kind with her time as I call her asking everything from how to hire staff to what to do about a till system. Trystan-Ross Williams was the chef at that pop up and he and I have been friends since university, he’s gone from strength to strength as a chef including stints as head pastry chef at Restaurant Sat Bains and Sous Chef for Angela Hartnett. Watching his methods at those pop ups has been a huge inspiration as to what can be created on a pizza, even though he wasn’t making pizzas, it helped open my eyes to the possibilities and be able to step away from the convention and think what else will work here.. He was also there every step of the way with dough advice, that guy knows his gluten. Mike and Paola from Vindinista were so kind to let me use their kitchen as a popup last summer and have always been very generous with their extensive advice and knowledge of the industry. Jules Kain is another of those ‘can do’ attitude people who has been directly and indirectly responsible for introducing me to I believe every person that has hosted me as a popup over the past year.
Best business decision?
Opening a restaurant
Worst business decision?
Opening a restaurant
What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Don’t do what others are doing without really considering if it’s best for you. If you start with a strong idea try to stick to it, it’s so easy to go 'well everybody else is doing this, I guess I should be too', without considering if they’re all wrong and your plan was better.
If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
The stronghold the council has over regulations. I understand the need for food safety but there’s a load of red tape that is ridiculous. I may have to open without a sign over my shop because I can’t get a reply from the council to get permission to write my name on my own restaurant.
Born in Hammersmith, Thornton studied Jazz Performance at Birmingham Conservatoire between 2007 and 2010, and then spent a decade working as a jazz musician, before the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic saw him lose his income overnight. Initially launched as a charitable fundraiser, he chose to pivot to delivering pizzas across Chiswick and Hammersmith with the help of his wife during the first national lockdown, and from that Base Face Pizza was born. Earlier this month Thornton opened Base Face Pizza's first bricks and mortar site in Hammersmith.