Meet the CEO who oversees 50 restaurants and eats 4,000 calories a day

Screen Shot 2016 04 04 at 5.14.17 PMSam FoxRestaurateur Sam Fox.

Most people consume about 2,000 calories a day.
Restaurateur Sam Fox often eats double that — sometimes all before lunch.

As the CEO and founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts, Fox oversees about 50 restaurants in eight states and spends at least part of each day tasting the menus.

We recently spoke to Fox to find out what it’s like run restaurants and eat 4,000 calories a day:

'I had an early introduction to the restaurant world.'

'My parents had a couple Mum and Pop restaurants where you worked six and seven days a week and it was truly a job just to support the family. It wasn't as glamorous in the 70s as it is today.

'So all my life the school bus would drop me off at my parents restaurant, and I would sit at a booth and do my homework and then help them in the kitchen as a bus boy or waiter.

'I loved it. It was something that I was inherently good at and you always gravitate toward those things.'

'Here's how I opened my first restaurant ... '

Sam Fox
Fox with a restaurant employee.

'I was studying real estate finance at the University of Arizona when my parents decided to move to Florida so I dropped out at 20 and took the remaining tuition money and applied that to one of my first restaurants.'

'The test kitchen is always in motion.'

'I'm always testing food. My office is above the test kitchen, which is also above one of my restaurants so we're constantly working on food.

'Sometimes they bring food to my desk, and I'll have a three to four course tasting at my desk. A lot of times I'll invite friends in for tastings to get feedback. When I'm travelling, I'll bring out the chef team for a week or two, and we'll go to one of my restaurants and the farmers market everyday and play around with food.

'Tasting takes about 25% of our time on a weekly basis. We're always trying to innovate food and try new things.'

'Sometimes I consume 4,000 calories before lunch.'

'I'll start my morning at 6:30 a.m. and have breakfast at The Henry restaurant, then go into the test kitchen where I try up to 15 to 20 dishes. We used to do test kitchens at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., but I said, 'We gotta stop this.' It was breakfast, then test kitchen, then lunch, then another test kitchen so we condensed that into one sitting.

'A lot of it is when I'm out travelling. For example, I recently started my day in Phoenix and had a salted caramel roll from one of our bakers, then I came to Los Angeles, and my family and I went to the Rose Cafe in Venice and we had 14 dishes. Then we went to Salt and Straw for ice cream. Then while we were walking the streets we came upon a to-go place, and I went in and ordered two pieces of pizza and three cookies to try. Then I said, 'I gotta stop this.' I love food. I love eating. I love new experiences.'

'I'm notorious for pre-judging food just by looking at it.'

'But as I've done this longer I know that sometimes I have to let my palette sort of enjoy something. A lot of times I may not love something, but I think our guests would enjoy it a lot. I don't try to do the menus for myself.'

'I don't consider myself overweight, but ... '

' ... I could probably lose about 10 pounds and feel a lot better. I'm kind of a binge eater and a binge dieter. And so I'll go 5 or 6 days eating like crazy and then 5 or 6 days off. It's a big yo-yo thing.

'And I'm very good when I'm at home. We have a restaurant called Flower Child and one called True Food that are both healthy restaurants, and I'll eat lunch and dinner five days in a row at Flower Child.

'I really have to release it a lot and bring it back to not eating dairy or carbs or only eating lean proteins and vegetables. It's a great reset for me.

'I also exercise regularly -- usually three to four days a week with a trainer and my wife. I have to have that exercise component.'

'My guilty pleasure is pizza.'

'I'm a pizza freak. I can eat a whole giant pizza myself. I'm just infatuated with pizza all the time.'

'Owning restaurants has changed the experience of eating at a friends house.'

'I've been known to be a little overcritical. My wife always has to keep me in check. Sometimes I come home and she's doing things I would never do and I have to catch myself because I'm glad she's doing it and want to support her.

'Friends are intimidated to have me over for a meal so we'll go over to a restaurant. Typically if we want an off night, we go to some hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we don't know anyone and there's zero expectations. Some of those are the best meals that we have and the best times we've enjoyed being together as a family or with friends.'

'I'm living my life's dream right now.'

'The best part of my job is dealing with all of my guests and creating great environments for our employees. It's an amazing part of who I am. I wake up everyday thankful.'

'The worst part is the travel ... '

' ... and being away from my family when I should be there more. That's why I include them a lot of times on my trips.

'Also, because we're open seven days a week there's always issues you're dealing with on a daily basis so you never get a break. It's always taxing and demanding and that can catch up with you. For example, today we had to close two stores in Denver for a blizzard and that's a lot of lost revenue.'

'I have three pieces of advice for anyone trying to open their own restaurant.'

'1. If you've never worked in a restaurant, the work in restaurant. You need to work in the front of the house and the back of the house.

'2. Make sure that you have the capital to see the project through the opening and the first six to 12 months.

'3. Make sure you know about both the business and the restaurant side. You rarely find people good at both.'

'My job is so great because food just makes people happy.'

'There's nothing better than having a great meal, a great dish, a great piece of pizza, a great ice cream cone. It makes me happy internally. It makes people happy. And I love being around that.'

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