Overall ranking: 48 (ranked 36 in 2011)
Chef ranking: 13 (ranked 8 in 2011)
Chef, restaurateur, food writer Mark Hix is the former chef-director of Caprice Holdings who now runs six restaurants under his own banner. Four are standalone restaurants of his own: Hix Oyster and Chop House, Hix Soho and Tramshed in London, and Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis, Dorset. The other two are ventures with other London operators: Hix Mayfair (at Brown's hotel), and Hix at Selfridges (a restaurant, Champagne and caviar bar, within the famous department store in Oxford Street). His dedication to British cooking and produce has helped to fuel a renaissance in the wider culinary world outside fine dining and contributed to him winning the 2010 Chef Catey award.
Mark Hix - Career guide
Born in Weymouth, Dorset in 1960 Hix discovered cooking after favouring domestic science over metalwork in his fifth year at school, inadvertently alighting on something that became an abiding life passion. He went on to pursue a career in catering, completing his City & Guilds qualification at Weymouth College.
After joining the staff canteen at London's Hilton hotel on Park Lane as a commis chef, Hix went on to work for two years at London's Grosvenor House hotel under Anton Edelmann and Vaughan Archer before moving on to the Dorchester under Anton Mosimann, where he was promoted after a few months from commis chef to chef de partie.
Two years later he joined small restaurant group Mr Pontacs as sous chef. After two months, at the age of 22, he was promoted to head chef of the group's Candlewick Room restaurant in the City of London replacing the previous incumbent. It proved a great stepping stone for him, with Hix quickly winning the Candlewick Room a Michelin Red M, the only restaurant in the City to hold this award at that time.
Four years later, hearing that a job was going at the legendary Le Caprice, Hix put his hat in to the ring and became its head chef. It was the start of almost two decades working in tandem with renowned restaurateurs Jeremy King and Chris Corbin who had acquired Le Caprice in 1981. When Caprice Holdings reopened the Ivy in Covent Garden in 1990, Hix became executive head chef for the group and oversaw all subsequent openings as the group expanded across London after being sold to Signature Restaurants in 2002.
In December 2007 Hix left Caprice Holdings after 17 years to concentrate on his own projects. His first was working with Rocco Forte, taking the role of director of food at Brown's hotel in Mayfair, undertaken while he was preparing to launch his first stand-alone restaurant, Hix Oyster and Chop House in the Smithfield area of London. It opened in 2008, to immediate commercial success, and was soon followed by the launch of Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis, in Hix's home county of Dorset. Hix (Soho) in the West End of London and Hix at Selfridges, opened in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Hix has won many awards for both his cooking and writing from a myriad of publications and organisations - from the Guild of Food Writers to Tatler; Caterer and Hotelkeeper to the Andre Simon Award.
Mark Hix - What we think
Hix, who has become celebrated for his modern approach to British food, played a key role in the phenomenal success of Caprice Holdings, alongside restaurateurs-du-jour Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, and later Richard Caring. But after 17 years with Caprice, owner of the Ivy and J Sheekey, Hix decided to quit and plough his own furrow. His first move was to start consulting for Brown's Hotel, helping revamp its food offering and launch The Albermarle restaurant.
Next came the chef's first independent restaurant, Hix's Oyster and Chop House, which hit the ground running - serving more than 200 covers a day within weeks. This was soon followed by the Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis. Hix had been hoping to open a restaurant in the South-west for some time but a deal to buy the Riverside restaurant in Bridport, Dorset, collapsed in late 2007.
Hix claims he had no plans for further expansion until the opportunity arose to take on the site of failed Japanese restaurant Aaya in London's West End. Thus Hix Soho was born, featuring, in Hix's words "my own brand of British food". Since then, he's added Hix Restaurant, Champagne & Caviar Bar at London department store Selfridges and Tramshed in Shoreditch. But, inevitably, things haven't always gone to plan.
At the beginning of 2012, Hix entered in to a partnership with Belgraves hotel (part of the Thompson group) in Belgravia, opening a restaurant and bar within the new luxury hotel. However, in October this year the two announced they were parting company, saying that the project "had failed to meet expectations".
The hiccup doesn't seem to have dented Hix's standing or popularity. His customers love his dedication to popularising classic British dishes, and reinventing them for 21st century fine-dining standards; and the unintimidating way he presents his food.
He continues to write a regular column in the Independent and a monthly one for Esquire magazine. In addition, he has clocked up nine cookbooks, the latest, Hix on Baking published in October 2012, has cannily picked-up on the cooking zeitgeist of the moment. In all his writing and work he remains a passionate advocate of seasonal, sustainable food, particularly British produce, and continues to promote causes like sustainable fishing and the work of bodies like the Marine Stewardship Council.