Much more than your average Jo...
PUBLISHED: 16:42 13 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:49 20 February 2013
From rock chick to chick peas; Rolling Stones to rolling pins, Jo Wood – ex wife of Ronnie – is on tour again. She tells Georgina Wroe about her passion for organic food
From rock chick to chick peas; Rolling Stones to rolling pins, Jo Wood ex wife of Ronnie is on tour again. She tells Georgina Wroe about her passion for organic food
Back in the day when you said grass to any serious rock n roller it meant only one thing. But with hell raisers like Keith Richards now listing his favourite pastime as dog walking, and Mick Jagger increasingly happy to trade the limelight for perlite (a sort of soil conditioner), it comes as less of a surprise that much of 55-year-old Jo Woods time is spent on her vegetable patch.
The uber glamorous Essex-born ex-model, who was married to Ronnie for 23 years before he ran off with a 19-year-old Russian barmaid, is the brains behind Mrs Paisleys Lashings a temporary restaurant at Harvest at Jimmys Farm, near Ipswich, in September.
Jo is more than evangelical about organic food; she is a woman on a mission.
"Im passionate about organic living and leading a more sustainable life, she says.
Following her divorce from Ronnie, and her performance on Strictly Come Dancing, Jo has reinvented herself as an entrepreneur with a message.
She looks back on her years as a rock chick with fondness. I had a wonderful marriage and had a great time. I loved going on tour and meeting wonderful people . . . I have no regrets.
And what of those testing weeks on Strictly ?
We had to train six days a week and there were tears. Brendan Cole (her dancer partner) showed me the dance, Id try to learn it, then became heartbroken when it wouldnt come together.
Grit, determination, and perhaps her winsome smile, kept her in the competition until week six.
But back to her current favourite subject, organic eating. She declares I want to convert everyone I meet to a more sustainable and organic way of thinking and eating.We need to eat seasonally off the land . . .its obvious what we should be doing and were not.
Its the first time that Mrs Paisleys Lashings (the name was made up by Jo, combining Victorian values with a hint of naughtiness) has appeared outside London.
The stylish restaurant, the idea for which came to Jo on a Kenyan beach, first appeared at Jos own Kingston home Holmwood House, a hunting lodge adjoining Richmond Park built for Queen Victoria.
Mrs Paisleys Lashings is driven by the importance of moving towards living and eating in a more sustainable way, Jo and Arthur declare in a joint mission statement.
The restaurants first incarnation ran through Wimbledon fortnight in June 2009 and was enormously successful with diners at the lavish bashes including Kate Moss, Pat Cash, Mark Ronson and Gary Kemp.
Theyd planned to seat 30 people a night, maximum, and ended up with 48. Many more people applied for reservations, but Mrs Ps was at capacity.
The restaurant uses organic food either grown in Jos veggie patch or from local producers.
At the end of the fortnight, Mrs Paisleys Lashings turned a small profit, which Wood donated to the Soil Association.
For the uninitiated pop-up restaurants are one of the latest eating crazes to hit the UK. They are restaurants, bars, clubs and shops that spring up in unexpected locations.
Shes not on her own, her chef is the organic guru Arthur Potts Dawson, who is also Mick Jaggers nephew.
Jos conversion to an organic way of life came from an immediate need. After falling seriously ill in 1989, a perforated appendix was misdiagnosed as Crohns disease.
Jo was prescribed a course of steroids that immediately sapped her spirit..
She was rescued by a herbalist, who introduced her to chemical-free, organic food. Out went processed grub of any kind including sugar and white flour, in came a healthier regime.
She says: So, Im laid in hospital, thinking: Im well! Im well! Jo, youve done it! I am meant to be here. And I am meant to be an organic girl!
Wood has spoken about how she has converted the extended Wood tribe (her older son James; her stepson Jesse; her younger children, Leah and Tyrone) to an organic diet. Shed even managed to convert her hard hard-living ex Ronnie Wood to a seasonally-dictated diet.
In 2005, convinced that an organic way of life should apply to more than just food, she launched, and continues to run, the award-winning Jo Wood Organics, selling high-end cosmetics.
Blonde and bubbly, with an infectious laugh, Jo Wood is a radiant advert for the over 50s. Whether its down to chemical-free food, or shedding a toxic husband is open to question.