Q&A: Chef Mitch Tonks
A passion for seafood and the oceans has served Mitch Tonks quite well. It’s what’s helped him build a name for himself and his three seafood restaurants in southwestern England: The Seahorse and RockFish Seafood & Chips in Dartmouth and RockFish Grill & Seafood Market in Bristol. It also propelled him to become an ambassador for Norway seafood, which he proudly serves in those respected establishments. And his unending fascination with fish is what saved him from an unfulfilling career as an accountant almost two decades ago. That’s right, one of the United Kingdom’s best-known seafood chefs used to be a number cruncher. And yes, he hated it.
Tonks, 45, is a champion of seafood sustainability who’s also becoming a mentor to young chefs, including his 22-year-old son, Ben, who joined the kitchen at Seahorse last year (Tonks and his wife are proud parents of five children, ages 11 to 25). Additionally, the winners of the recent U.K. Young Seafood Chef of the Year competition, held at the Grimsby Institute and sponsored by Young’s Seafood Ltd., were given a surprise: an all-expenses-paid trip to Dartmouth to dine at The Seahorse and then a breakfast in Brixham the next morning to talk shop with Tonks. While he didn’t necessarily have a mentor himself, he welcomes opportunities to meet and influence up-and-coming culinary stars. Might the next sultan of the spatula be his progeny?