Mark Hix Chefs

After Hours

Mark Hix

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Mark Hix will be at the Festive Edition of Taste of London in Tobacco Dock, 17-20 November. london.tastefestivals.com

With nine restaurants, Mark Hix is one of the UK’s most prolific home-grown chef patrons. He shares his festive food tips and favourite Christmas drinking dens with Imogen Lepere.

Where did you last go on holiday? - I don’t go on holiday much but I did go to Barbados a few years ago. It’s a fantastic place. When I worked at Caprice Holdings I opened Daphne’s on the island and it was really difficult to get decent fresh ingredients. That’s all changed now and they grow plenty of produce. You can eat at sophisticated restaurants and beach shacks alike. There’s nothing like fresh lobster and mahi mahi.

What do you cook for Christmas dinner? - I have a late lunch and try to avoid turkey at all costs. It’s so boring and most people dry it out. If I’m cooking, one of my favourite things to do is a collection of small game birds such as partridge, pheasant and snipe so people can have a bit of everything. I really like Brussels sprouts shredded and lightly roasted with chestnuts to pair it with. Roast pumpkin is good too, topped with crushed Amaretti biscuits for added sweetness.

Any essential sides? - It has to be bread sauce for me. I always follow the same recipe. Slice an onion in two, finely chop one half and stud the other with cloves and a bay leaf. Simmer the studded one in milk for 30 minutes until the flavours are properly infused and add a sprinkle of nutmeg. Cook the shredded onion in butter until it goes translucent before adding the milk for another 15 minutes. Stir in breadcrumbs and plenty of salt and pepper and, if you have time, blend a quarter of the studded onion and add it to the mix. Beautiful.

And how about for breakfast? - On Christmas morning we always have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. On Boxing Day it’s a big hash of leftovers. On the occasions when we have had turkey, I love frying it with sprouts and crushed roast potatoes then topping it with a poached egg.

What dish on your menus are you most proud of? - It has to be my salmon, which we’ve been smoking ourselves for nine years. The fish comes from Loch Duart in Scotland and we smoke it over a blend of apple and oak wood, so it has a really subtle flavour. I hate it when people mess with it by covering it in lemon. Served on cubes of home made soda bread, it is the ultimate canapé.

Where would you take us for a Christmas tipple? - In east London I go to PortSide Parlour and Som Saa because they’re near my restaurant, Tramshed. If I’m out and about around Mayfair, I’ll go to Dukes on St James, and I always like sitting outside Ducksoup on Dean Street for a low-key drink. If I’m in Soho, I often end up at the Groucho Club. I grew up in Dorset and when I go back to Lyme Regis I spend most evenings in The Volunteer Pub on the high street or The Harbour Inn on the quay, where I keep a vintage speedboat.

This article was published on 16th December 2016 so certain details may not be up to date.

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