From his favourite meal to the people who have inspired him and Mark Hix talks all things foodie
You now run seven restaurants, as well as launching Mark’s Kitchen in your Charmouth home. What do you do to relax?
All types of fishing.
What is the idea behind Mark’s Kitchen?
Throughout the year I host an intimate cooking experience where I demonstrate and cook an array of dishes based on the best of the season’s ingredients. These are held monthly at my Charmouth home or with guest chefs at The Kitchen Library at Tramshed in Shoreditch.
How would you sum up your style of cooking?
Simple cooking, using the best of the season’s ingredients.
Did you always want to be a chef?
I sort of fell into cooking. My grandparents brought me up so I was left to fend for myself. I went fishing a lot. My grandfather grew tomatoes and my grandmother cooked: cheap cuts, lambs’ hearts and pork belly. I remember that smell of the ham in the kitchen. Later, I studied catering at Weymouth College, which was followed by apprenticeships with two great chefs; Anton Edelmann at the Grosvenor House Hotel and Anton Mosimann at the Dorchester.
Does living in Dorset and near the coast inspire your cooking?
I was born in West Bay, Bridport – about ten miles down the coast from Lyme Regis, where I now own a restaurant. I didn’t appreciate it when I was a kid: when you’re brought up by the seaside, you never do. I spent a lot of my time swimming, fishing and playing golf, but I just took it all for granted. Then I moved to London, where I live now, and forgot all about the coast. Now I go down to Dorset about three times a month, to keep an eye on the business and have a bit of time out. I really appreciate the area now. There’s nowhere else like it.
Best ingredients to work with?
Cornish sea salt, cumin seeds (my favourite spice), pickled walnuts, rapeseed oil and mayonnaise
What did you have to eat last night?
Piri piri chicken at my latest restaurant Hixter Bankside.
Do you have a favourite meal?
Lobster and chips.
Which other chefs do you admire?
There is a whole list of people I admire – those who have inspired me in my career, such as my tutor Lorie Mills, the chefs Anton Edelmann, Anton Mosimann, Fergus Henderson and Alice Waters, and the food writer Elizabeth David.
Person you would most like to cook for?
If alive, it would be my grandparents and father.
Favourite restaurant and why?
At the moment I love Gymkana for their potato chat with chickpeas, tamarind and sev, and my new favourite is Smoking Goat.
We hear the Hix Fix is your best-selling aperitif. Why so popular?
Morello cherry in Somerset Cider Brandy eau de vie topped with Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2004. What’s not to like?
What next for Mark Hix? Any more restaurants or projects in the pipeline?
We are always keeping an eye out for interesting sites but nothing is planned for this year.
Every month Mark hosts an intimate cooking experience at his Charmouth home where he demonstrates and cooks a stunning array of dishes based on the best of the season’s ingredients. With plenty of time to chat to Mark while he creates a British seasonal feast in front of your eyes Hix’s Kitchen Table is a culinary experience to savour. To find out about the next event visit: www.hixrestaurants.co.uk/demonstrations/
Portrait: Jason Lowe