Highly acclaimed and award-winning seafood restaurateur, food writer and supporter of sustainable fishing and the industry, Mitch Tonks is a long-standing MSC UK ambassador.
Mitch Tonks has a love of seafood and an insatiable desire to share that passion with others. All of his eight Rockfish restaurants on the southern British coast serve MSC certified sustainable seafood.
Over the last 25 years that I have worked in seafood I have watched things change, less big fish and species like wild salmon virtually disappearing, it was obvious to me that my love of seafood needed to go beyond eating and cooking and I needed to understand more about sustainability issues. It's something I have been concerned about and working with for a number of years and feel that dealing in certified sustainable well-managed species from local fisheries is the only way to go.
How big a challenge for humankind is the protection of our oceans?
It’s up there as one of the biggest challenges we have to face and manage. We have over the years assumed the oceans were finite and big enough to absorb rubbish and waste materials and discharge. Our oceans are a vital part of our ecosystem and food chain, and the management and protection of them for me is a number one agenda item.
Your restaurants in the south-west of England have scooped multiple awards. What’s your top-selling dish?
The UK loves white fish, we always have, but we have worked hard to introduce people to other species from our local fisheries and make them aware of the benefits of MSC certified seafood. It used to be 60% of people eating cod and haddock but now we are seeing 60% eating native species.
You’re in a fish and chip shop, what’s your go-to order?
MSC certified line-caught haddock, chips and peas.
Which country do you visit for foodie inspiration?
I love the Mediterranean, so Italy, France, Spain - all those countries that border oceans where seafood is part of their heritage. The respect, love and understanding in the seafood cookery in those nations is by far the best in the world.
When you’re too tired to cook at home what do you prepare?
Eggs, I love them.
Say a friend is visiting the UK’s southwest coast for the first time, where would you take them and what would you do?
I would take a walk along the coast path from Blackpool sands into Dartmouth, the views are breathtaking and arrival in Dartmouth means a plate of seafood!
What ingredients are always in your fridge?
Salted anchovies, chillies, salami, cheese.
Beer or wine?
Both! One is ice cold IPA to quench then wine with food. I love the experience of food and wine together, they can really bring out the best in each other.
In the sea or in the kitchen?
I love both places but if I could, I would live aboard, sailing the world's oceans and cooking on board.
Fish or crustaceans?
Both! It's a mood thing, sometimes I just feel like I want crab or oysters then someone gives me locally caught gilt bream and I grill it and think wow, I just love seafood.
What would your last meal be?
Fried eggs and white truffle followed by a plate of small red mullets dusted in flour and shallow fried, green salad on the side dressed with fresh grassy olive oil and a glass of Grenache gris.