WHEN the HIX restaurants went into administration in April due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, chef and restaurateur Mark Hix decided to reinvent himself during these difficult times and do what he knows best – support local fishermen and producers and supplying good quality, sustainable food to the people of Dorset.
HIX Oyster & Fish House and HIX Townhouse in Lyme Regis closed when lockdown restrictions were implemented in March. Residents were later shocked when it was announced that Westbury Street Holdings (WSH), the hospitality company which owned these two local businesses, as well as three HIX restaurants in London, had gone into administration.
But Mark is now making a comeback and launched the HIX Oyster & Fish Truck this week, pitching up his converted ambulance outside Felicity’s Farmshop in Morcombelake to sell locally-caught wet fish and seafood.
Mark commented: “When the WSH board decided to close the HIX restaurants, I wasn’t sure what my next steps would be, but I had so much support and encouragement from friends and colleagues and also from Instagram followers, that I started thinking about what I could do.
“Felicity doesn’t sell wet fish and so kindly agreed for me to take a pitch at my favourite farm shop.
“Buying direct from the Lyme Bay Reserve fishermen also means I can sell by-catch which is supporting the local fishermen in the area.”
As well as selling the Dorset produce, Mark will be sharing another passion of his – vintage kitchenware. A collector of vintage silver and copperware, ‘Vintage Kitchenalia’, will also be sold from the truck including copper pans and silver cocktail shakers.
“I have a few more ideas in the pipeline too so watch this space,” said Mark.
The truck will be at Felicity’s Farm Shop every Wednesday to Saturday.
Mr Hix, who grew up in West Bay and now has a house in Charmouth, kick-started Lyme’s growing reputation as a foodie destination when he opened HIX Oyster & Fish House in Lister Gardens in 2008.
He soon established himself as a popular local celebrity and has been responsible for attracting large number of visitors to the town to dine at his restaurant and stay in his guest house. He also held cooking demonstrations in his own kitchen in Charmouth.
Mr Hix was also active in the setting up a cooking school at Weymouth Technical College, where he first learnt to cook.
In 2013, he launched the popular Food Rocks festival in Lyme Regis, which brought many of the top celebrity chefs to Lyme and which has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the RNLI and Fishermen’s Mission. He has also supported many other local charities.
The author of several cookery books, Mr Hix was one of the most sought-after food columnists with his recipes appearing many national publications. He is also a keen fisherman and has a boat moored in Lyme Regis harbour.