EPISODE 28: MARK HIX: CHEF & RESTAURANTEUR
This is an exciting episode with one of the most famous chefs and restauranteurs in London, Mark Hix. We find out about the dishes that have shaped Mark’s life, his business highs and even some lows. We discover that he has an unusual love of ceramic jugs and we find out which restaurant in the world he likes so much he wishes it were his.
Renowned chef and restaurateur, Mark is widely recognised as the reviver of modern British cuisine and is famous for his focus on a straightforward interpretation of British cooking. He is without a doubt one of London’s most eminent restauranteurs.
Mark launched his first restaurant – Hix Oyster & Chop House in Farringdon, in 2008, after having spent 17 years as chef director at Caprice Holdings. He followed the opening of his first restaurant with Hix at Browns Hotel, Hix Soho and the chicken and steak restaurants, Tramshed in Shoreditch and Hixter Bankside.
In February 2016, Mark teamed up with the artist Damien Hirst to open Pharmacy 2 at the Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall.
Somehow amongst all of that Mark has written 10 cookbooks, he has a weekly food column and Mark hosts an annual food festival in Lyme Regis, Food Rocks to showcase the best producers and suppliers in Dorset and nearby.
It’s been said about Mark by none other than Tracey Emin, “What’s amazing about his success is how nice he is.’
I think it's always wonderfully reassuring to discover that someone who is very successful and at the top of their game is also very nice. I think we live in a strange world where this isn't always true but happily Mark is genuinely kind, friendly and fun.
Unsurprisingly Mark had some delicious choices for his Desert Island Dishes. Ranging from simple pleasures such as the soused mackerel, which he caught himself, but prepared by his granny, served with tomatoes grown by his grandpa to the lobster and bacon club sandwich he settled on for his favourite sandwich.
Choosing to learn to cook mainly in an attempt to hang out with girls over the more typically boyish choice of metal work class at school backfired when all the girls chose to take metal work. But he learnt to cook and a pineapple upside down cake has a special place in his heart, even featuring on his menus to this day. I also love a bit of retro cooking so this sounds heavenly to me.
Mark really likes his offal. He talks of the cod tongues he had in Spain whilst visiting a girlfriend's parents who lived out there. They consisted of black rice and cod tripe, salted belly served with wild mushrooms. Go to a Chinese restaurant with Mark and be prepared for him to order lots of offal! Whether that be pig's kidneys, tripe or intestines, he will order it all. Late at night you might even find him at Hung in China Town.
Mark is obviously hugely successful. There's no other way to look at it. But what I really respect is that he has had "failures", or things that didn't go to plan, things that didn't work entirely. He's refreshingly open about these and I think a lot of people will take encouragement from that. I think if you dig deep enough into any successful persons history there will be risks they took that didn't work out but possibly what defines them is that they didn't let that hold them back, they dusted themselves off and got on with the next thing.
If you haven't tried the very simple pudding of frozen berries served with piping hot white chocolate sauce, then you must. You just must. The sauce is made with 50% white chocolate and 50% double cream. People absolutely love it and it's such a fun and faff free way of serving pudding at a dinner party. I also love the sound of the steamed marmalade and burbon pudding with custard made by Richard Turner...that sounds perfect for this time of year. Yum.
I asked Mark if there was any restaurant he wished he owned and his answer involved Tracey Emin, a simple fish restaurant and a nudist beach. What a brilliant answer. You will need to have a listen to the episode to find out more.
Just click here to have a listen.
Desert island dish:
Fish and chips and frozen berries with hot white chocolate sauce
Luxury item: glug glug jug
Don't forget to check out the recipe I've created which is inspired by Mark's episode of Desert Island Dishes.