Slurping Oysters With the Old Master of Seasonal British Cuisine
Part three of our Chefs on Sundays series focuses on Mark Hix, the London-based chef and author famous for championing regional cuisine and seafood at his four lauded outposts, including London’s Hix Oyster & Chop House and Hix Soho. Photographer Marcus Gaab and food stylist Victoria Granof’s opulent moving feast guides us with relish through Hix’s quintessential Sunday repast of oysters and champagne. Since discovering his passion for cooking by accident at school, when he signed up for catering to avoid metalwork classes, Hix has conquered appetites through an obsession with quality and heritage that has seen him serve the produce of his very own garden. Preferring to spend weekends at his wooden lodge on the Dorset coast, where he also has a restaurant, he often catches his own supper. Whether crab hauled up from his boat or fresh bass paired with offbeat greens or sea spinach gathered from the beach, Hix’s simple but deftly prepared spreads are always voraciously devoured in the company of close friends.
Earliest foraging memory?
When I was a kid we'd go crabbing off the pier in West Bay, Dorset. And blackberry picking in late summer.
If it's the season for natives then I'll always go for these. Natives have a very specific taste and are much stronger in flavor. I like to taste as much of their unique flavor as I can, so I don't believe in adding lemon, shallot vinegar or tobacco. If I'm eating rocks––and we have some very fine oysters being grown around the British isles––then I might add a squeeze of lemon. But I prefer my oyster to taste of an oyster.
What’s your poison?
Julian Temperley's 20-Year-Old Cider Brandy.
Best hangover cure?
Either a very spicy, large bloody Mary (of course) or Vietnamese. The best Vietnamese restaurant in London is Cay Tre in Soho or Viet Grill in Shoreditch.
What’s always in your pantry?
Curry spices. A good dry pasta. Anchovies.
Aphrodisiac of choice?
Shellfish. Getting your hands all dirty and sucking the sweet delicious flesh.
Any pet hates when it comes to food preparation?
When everything has to be steamed. That's just too boring.
Most extravagant cooking tool?
Proudest culinary moment?
Making a large rabbit and crayfish pie for sharing on the BBC series Great British Menu. People were a bit shocked that I'd made a pie, but it went down a treat. I think for me though, my proudest culinary moment was opening Hix Oyster & Chop House.