This week I had the great pleasure of meeting the celebrity chef, Mitch Tonks, at his superb seafood restaurant, The Seahorse in Dartmouth. Of course, being naturally curious, I was reeled in – hook, line and sinker. Mitch began his early career in financial services (a job rather than a passion) clearly gaining the great business acumen for running his business today. On one of his daily arduous commutes where he slogged up the M4 from the West Country, it dawned on him… he realised that he needed to make a U-turn. The tide had changed and he needed to stop swimming against the current and embrace the best wave of his life and future. Mitch claims that his passions which are his early connection with the sea and as a child cooking with his grandmother, are the basis for his turning point.
Mitch has now become one of the most respected and knowledgeable seafood people in the country and an acclaimed restaurateur, chef and author in the process. Every day starts at The Seahorse, the Dartmouth quayside restaurant Mitch co-owns and runs with his best friend Mat Prowse, as though it was their first. Furthermore, every day at the Seahorse begins with the acute awareness that the day is only as good as – the weather, the climate and the food they source – and the team rely on those key ingredients.
On TV, Mitch is known for his ten-part fishing series with Matt Dawson and appearances on Saturday Kitchen and Market Kitchen. He is a champion of sustainability and driven by a strong belief that the South West coast is Britain’s Seafood Coast and produces some of the finest seafood in the world. He is committed to constantly giving back to the community that has given him so much. He has embarked on an academy scheme in partnership with South Devon College to help train the next generation of aspiring chefs and to supporting the local fishing industries. On matters of UK fishing, sustainability and supply, his is arguably one of the most erudite and credible voices out there.
His passion and flair was transparent as he prepared a banquet for friends celebrating a very special birthday whilst he told me of his adventures and fabulous journey, embracing simplicity, freshness and flavour over everything else.