For multi-hyphenate food entrepreneur Josh Patterson, Huel helps him power through in the kitchen, in the recording studio and in open water
Right now, his main gig is Bill or Beak, a burger joint in north London’s outdoor eating mecca, Camden Market. Nearby he’s got another foodie venture, Ink Fish Bar, a sustainable seafood stall.
Outside of his growing street food empire, Josh is also co-founder of On The Table, an ingredients box company specializing in moreish foodie treats from high-quality local, independent manufacturers. And there’s Service Please!, a podcast in which Josh, as the host, interviews a curated selection of some of London’s hottest food entrepreneurs and industry leaders.
“I'm not going to lie, I spin a few plates,” the foodie polymath chuckles, pun only half intended.
If it all sounds like a lot, well, it is. But Josh still finds time to enjoy life, whether checking out the competition – the evening before we chat he had been to eat at the new Soho outpost of Middle-Eastern vegetarian restaurant Bubala – or making sure he’s partaking in some form of exercise three times a week.
The latter will usually be a swim. Most mornings, he’s up at 6am to hotfoot it to the local lido before getting to one of his eateries for an early start.
He first became interested in swimming after tearing his ACL while playing football. As one of the key ligaments around the knee joint, it’s a hard injury to come back from, and his doctor advised him to quit impact sports.
At a loss on how to maintain his fitness while also keeping the camaraderie in his life that comes from playing team sports, Josh had a chance encounter with Peigh Assante, founder of inner city swim club, Swim Dem. Peigh bought a burger, the pair got chatting, and he invited Josh to join them in a dip.
“He had been in Run Dem, an inner city running club, which is an absolute vibe as well. Peigh's story was he was training to do 12 marathons in one year, he messed up his knee, and then went into swimming like me.
“I said I would come down, but I had never swum much before so I didn't think much of it. Then I went to go and see James Bond at the cinema and Swim Dem came on with this Android advert they had done with Google. And then we randomly met again at the coffee shop down my road. I was like, bro I've been trying to find you for two months.”
Josh has been swimming for six years now and mixes up his swims between Swim Dem meet-ups, the easier-to-get-to pools near where he lives in south London, and wild swims further outside of the capital — the latter also prepping him for the open water competitions and challenges he regularly takes part in.
“I just did a 6km swim down in South Devon which was part of the Open Water Society, and I also recently did a 10km swim around Helsinki in Finland.” (For perspective, that’s the same distance as the Olympics’ long-distance open water swim. And they tend not to happen quite so close to the Arctic Circle).
During training for one of these challenges, Josh will usually be swimming three times a week for an hour-and-a-half each session. As a strenuous full-body workout, there’s a need to get your nutrition right, which is how Josh turned to Huel Complete Protein.
“At the moment I'm aiming to eat between 160g and 180g of protein a day to maintain muscle mass,” he says.
“I'm not a millionaire and being extremely food-conscious and caring about sourcing, the idea of basically eating pasture grass-fed beef and non-soy-fed chicken every single day, to be able to get those high levels of protein, is just financially unviable.”
“It’s vegan, which makes you feel you're doing a little bit of stuff for the environment. It's nutritionally balanced. You have the different protein sources which are obviously very important for those amino acids, and from a macro-nutritional point of view as well. This is the only protein powder which I've ever eaten but it seems to have worked really, really well.”
As well as helping keep his macros in check, Josh also loves how the other shakes in the Huel lineup slot effortlessly into his daily life.
“I don't sit behind a desk, so it's very common for me to rack up 20,000 steps in a day. And then there’s the swim or the gym, so you need a lot of calories.
“I'm on the move quite a bit today, so I've got a Huel already made up in my bag. I might not need it, but it’s there if you find yourself sitting down at 2pm and thinking bloody hell I've not actually had anything to eat. Time does pass and it's just very easy and convenient to be able to do that.”
Despite the plate being well and truly full, Josh is still finding room to fit on even more. On the morning we spoke, he’d been asked whether he wanted to take part in a 6km swim around the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park, while he has an eye on potentially getting up to the 34km it would take to get across the English Channel, albeit as part of a group relay.
“I'm not mentally messed up enough that I think I need to or want to do it completely solo,” he says, with a grin.
Alongside the monster swims he has also just signed up for an expedition up Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe. “It's not Everest, or something like that, where you need quite a lot of mountaineering, technical skill,” he says, with the relaxed candor of a man who relishes being pushed to his limits.
But despite, well, everything, Josh is generous with his time, and his general demeanor on shoot and when chatting is remarkably calm, friendly, and unwaveringly likable.
“I think prior to the pandemic I probably did get a little bit too overwhelmed by things and got a little bit stressed out. But I think when you go through something like that, you're just like, does it really matter? We're all just here to have a laugh really aren't we?
“On a serious note, it made me see how vulnerable the world is and it's just really no one actually knows what they're doing. Everyone's just trying to make it through, so just try and have a good time while doing it.”
Photographs: Rory Langdon-Down
Words: Richard Jones
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