Mark Hix is a celebrated chef, restaurateur and food writer. He is well known for his original take on British gastronomy.
After 17 years as Chef Director at Caprice Holdings, he opened his first restaurant in 2008 Hix Oyster & Chop House in Smithfield. He has since opened a further seven establishments, including Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis, the chicken and steak concept restaurants ‘Tramshed’ in Shoreditch and of course, the well known HIX Soho. Mark writes for Esquire magazine and has a weekly column in The Independent and he has published a number of cookbooks.
When I caught up with Mark he was at his restaurant in Lyme Regis, which offers wonderful views across the sea. What made you decide to have a restaurant in this part of the world?
“Fishing off West Bay as a boy I guess, I love it here and I had so many happy times as a child catching mackerel.”
So how did you get involved in the professional kitchen? “When I left school I didn’t know what to do with myself and ended up working in a pub at weekends then went on to go to catering college.” This was Weymouth Catering College where he studied, which has now become the Hix Academy. “The academy is a mix between education and experiencing the work at first hand and the college has a restaurant that is open to the public giving students on-hand experience.”
So why do you think going into that line of work is attractive?
“Well, I think it is more attractive now than when I was a kid. It’s a bit more rock and roll. It is a good business to be in although you have to be dedicated and live with the long hours. At the college the kids can learn everything from cookery to hospitality and then can leave the with skills that are wanted for jobs they apply for. The college, of which I am extremely proud, has some lecturers who have spent time in my London restaurants and they can teach the students how to develop.”
And further plans for more restaurants? “I think I will probably expand I suppose. It keeps it interesting.” And how hands are on you? “The recipes are mine. Obviously, I cannot cook all of them with the number of restaurants I have, but I do like to keep my theme running through the dishes. In particular I want only the freshest seasonal produce that is available. Here in Dorset in particular I love to be able to serve fish and seafood that was in the sea just a few hours earlier.”
I wanted to know more about the idea behind his latest book Mark Hix, The Collection explaining to him that it is one of the best cook books I had ever read and that it is my bedtime reading. You appear to have a way with words how did that come about? “I don’t know. I love writing and I love food. I also love feeding people and making them happy. I am glad you are enjoying the book.”
To find out more about Mark and his restaurants please visit www.hixrestaurants.co.uk