Without collaboration and mutual admiration, Jon and Alyssa Todd say their dining, catering and baking company, Deadfox, wouldn’t exist.
The couple certainly brings complementary skill sets to the table: Jon is a chef with experience cooking at Taste, J. Devoti Trattoria and Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions while Alyssa left a job in IT to run the beverage and front-of-house operations at Bulrush, where she worked until last month. “I had zero desire to ever really do my own thing until I met Alyssa and started cooking for her,” says Jon. “She said, ‘We should do something together. We could make this into something more sustainable and accessible.’”
The result is Deadfox, which offers private catering, sells pantry items such as boiled bagels and cakes through its website and hosts pop ups featuring a range of fare, from ramen to tacos to breakfast staples.
You both still work full-time jobs – Jon as a culinary instructor and Alyssa in the food-and-drink industry. Why launch Deadfox? I missed that end of the industry – cooking for people and sharing food with people – but on my own terms, as opposed to spending 80 hours a week in the kitchen. At the end of the day, our goal is enjoyment, fun and delicious food for us and other people. –Jon Todd
Deadfox is all of the things that we enjoy. We read a lot, and we just enjoy learning. –Alyssa Todd
What inspires your menus and pantry items? A lot of my [inspiration] comes from places I’ve visited. We went to Montreal not too long ago, and we came home and were playing with gravy and foie gras. We had the pleasure of going to Japan, and I came home and cooked with everything from there. A lot of it is experiencing new things and then applying that to what I’m doing and trying to turn it into something of my own. There’s a lot to be said about what kind of food someone is making and why they’re making it. I try to be very cognizant of that, being born and raised in St. Louis and cooking Japanese and Mexican food. Food is one of those things that is meant to be shared; everyone shares food. To me, there’s nothing more American than ketchup, but if you trace back the origin, it’s Indonesian. –J.T.
Alyssa, you love researching the history of food and drinks. How is that reflected in your work with Deadfox? I like to dissect why things are the way they are. People are more curious now than ever about what they’re eating, what’s in it [and] where it comes from, and that’s why I ask the “why.” Not just because it interests me, but because I like telling people the answer. When we did our ramen pop up right before COVID-19 started, it was really fun to tell people why we cooked the ramen and steamed buns from scratch and share our experiences from traveling [in Japan]. –A.T.