Written By: Robert Cocuzzo | Photography By: Ivy Erlinger
The jet-setting, runway-walking, finger-licking good life of Jax Raynor.
If you’ve eaten at The Pearl in recent years past, you might have been welcomed by a tall, striking blond at the hostess stand. The daughter of restaurant owners Seth and Angela Raynor, Jax Raynor glowed with a rock-star quality that seemed too big and too bright to be contained on Nantucket. Indeed, by the age of seventeen, Jax was modeling around the world, hopscotching from shoots in New York City to runway shows in Hong Kong to gigs in London. Two years ago, her life took another big leap when she met world-renowned chef Hayden Quinn of Master Chef Australia at a New Year’s Eve party in New York City. The two quickly fell in love and moved into Quinn’s home on another faraway island — Australia. Living Down Under, Raynor continued her modeling career, while her relationship with Quinn brought her back to her first true love: food. Most recently, Jax Raynor started her own food blog called Model Turned Cook, and N Magazine checked in to see what else she’s got cooking.
N MAGAZINE: How did the idea for the blog come about?
RAYNOR: I created Model Turned Cook because I genuinely love cooking. It just took me twenty-three years and a very depressing five-day juice cleanse to make me realize that cooking was my favorite part of my day. I wanted to create a place where people can find relatable stories and accessible recipes. It’s all about food that you actually want to be eating. People have been telling me my whole life that I should be doing something with food, but I’ve always felt it was a bit ironic because I’m a model, and, according to most, “models don’t eat.”
N MAGAZINE: How do you stay fit while eating what you want?
RAYNOR: It’s all about listening to your body and doing what you’re comfortable with. I eat what I want 90 percent of the time, but I also make sure I do some sort of movement, even if it’s just getting outside for a twenty-minute walk. It feels overused, but the term “everything in moderation” is the best guideline to follow. It’s important to have balance if you want to have the best of both worlds.
N MAGAZINE: Speaking of two worlds, what has modeling in Australia taught you about body image in the United States?
RAYNOR: The modeling industry as a whole, no matter where you are in the world, tends to have a warped sense of body image. In America and Europe, models get told off for being “too big” or “too athletic.” Even in Australia, where a healthier look is popular, girls get attacked in the media for being “too skinny.” It can go both ways. I love working in Australia, especially with my agency, because they embrace you and your body how it is naturally. If they measure you and you’re a little bigger, it’s not an issue. In New York or Europe, gaining weight could get you dropped from the agency.
N MAGAZINE: What do most people not appreciate about the life of a model?
RAYNOR: Most people hear about the amazing trips, clothes and parties, but they don’t hear about how lonely it can be. Imagine being seventeen traveling somewhere you’ve never been, staying with people you’ve never met who don’t speak your language and who are all after the same job. It’s an extremely intimidating situation. Some nights we go to amazing parties, wear great clothes and meet interesting people, but 90 percent of the time we’re eating cup of noodles in bed, watching Netflix, missing our friends and family at home. Sounds glamorous doesn’t it?
N MAGAZINE: Speaking of home, how did growing up in the restaurant industry shape who you are today?
RAYNOR: Growing up in the restaurant industry is one of the best things that could ever happen to a kid. You are not only taught how to cook, but also how to respect and work with others. The restaurant industry has given me the tools I need to be calm when literally everything is going wrong, to have a ten-minute conversation with someone that I haven’t met since I was four years old and do not remember, to treat everyone with respect, and most of all, it has taught me to love and appreciate food.
N MAGAZINE: Would you ever want to own a restaurant?
RAYNOR: I like the idea of owning a restaurant. I would love to own a little place by the water and serve the freshest seafood and best cocktails and wine — somewhere you go and sit all afternoon. I would also like to be able to go away for a week without having to plan months ahead. One of the very few negatives about growing up in restaurants is seeing how much work goes into it. The romantic aspect of it is a little more of a dream than a reality. The fire alarm goes off at 3 a.m. and you have to get out of bed hoping your business isn’t up in flames. Your dishwasher stops working in the middle of service. A fish tank breaks and floods your entire restaurant, and fish are flapping around everywhere on the Fourth of July weekend. These are the things that I’ve witnessed my parents experience. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I would never own a restaurant, but I don’t plan on owning one anytime soon.
N MAGAZINE: Your boyfriend, Hayden Quinn, is a famous chef in Australia. What has he taught you about cooking that’s different from the lessons your parents taught you growing up?
RAYNOR: Hayden and my dad are very similar when it comes to cooking, and I am very similar to my mom. We all love an amazing meal with all the sides and extra bits, but Hayden and my dad are very good at simplifying things. It’s fun to have a big and extravagant dinners, but it’s not very cost-friendly, and it also takes up a lot of time. Hayden has taught me that it’s okay to just have grilled chicken, sweet potato and green beans. Not every night has to be the most exciting dinner of your life.
N MAGAZINE: Has he exposed you to any unusual Australian dishes?
RAYNOR: One of my first weeks in Australia, we went to a friend’s house for dinner and they were having Kangaroo sausages, which they were calling “Kanga Bangas.” I could only stomach a small bite. It was just too weird to me to eat something we grew up thinking was such a cute animal.
N MAGAZINE: What’s a quintessential Stroll dinner for you?
RAYNOR: The perfect holiday dinner for us would have to be a massive table of cheeses and meats to start, followed by roasted beef tenderloin, potato gratin, sautéed green beans with shaved almonds, Yorkshire pudding and a mixed green salad. I love making dessert and usually settle on making at least two. Last year, I made a pumpkin and spiced cream cheese roulade and a dark chocolate pecan pie. I’ll be making a Thanksgiving dinner in a few weeks for Model Turned Cook, so I will be sharing some of my favorite holiday recipes then. So be sure to check in.
Photography by Ivy Erlinger.