Mark Hix, Lesley Waters & Ashley Palmer Watts In Dorset Seafood Festival Line Up

06 July 2012

It’s nearly time to head down to the picturesque setting of Weymouth Old Harbour to enjoy the Dorset Seafood Festival on 7th & 8th July. One of the highlights of the county’s social calendar it is a celebration of the sea, its bounty and the culinary talents that reside in the area. This year’s event will be the most ambitious yet with its largest line up of celebrity chef demonstrations and over 80 stalls, many  serving freshly cooked seafood dishes, a must have for all seafood lovers. Corks will pop as the festival’s title sponsor Pommery Champagne serves those wanting to soak up the convivial atmosphere in one of its pavement bars. There’s also the Weird Fish ‘Across the Harbour Swim’ organised by Weymouth & Portland Lions Club and Sarah Ayton OBE and three times gold medallist conducting the official opening of the event. Dorset Seafood Festival 2012 welcomes back two of the county’s most well known chefs Lesley Waters and Mark Hix and new comer Ashley Palmer Watts also from Dorset.

Mark Hix will be returning to this year’s Seafood Festival to judge the Dorset Young Seafood Masterchef Challenge. 2012 has been a busy year for Mark so far, with the opening of two new restaurants in London – HIX Belgravia and most recently Tramshed, in Shoreditch, but he will be spending much of July down in Dorset. Last year's Master chef received a silver fish award from Mark which he had made especially for the lucky winners. He will also be demonstrating fish and seafood dishes on the Sunday afternoon.

Well known for her regular television appearances on Ready Steady Cook, BBC, Great Food Live, UKTV and This Morning, ITV1, Lesley Waters runs her own cookery school at Abbots Hill, Dorset.  Lesley loves to cook seasonal food whenever possible and her simple, modern style creates dishes that are easy to recreate with stunning results. At this year’s Dorset Seafood festival she will be running a cookery school. You will find her at the hub of the event by the Pavilion and priced at just £20 per person, this is your chance to go ‘hands on’ with a celebrity chef. Book your place by calling 0844 800 4633 or email For full details visit

Lesley will be joined in the cookery school by one of the festival sponsor’s Cono Sur wines. With a recently re-launched UK website,, it is one of the most innovative wineries in Chile and is the country’s top Pinot Noir producer.

Originally from Dorset, Ashley Palmer-Watts influences began with his love of the countryside and his knowledge of British seasonality and produce. Ashley joined Heston Blumenthal in 1999 at the Fat Duck in Bray, which had been open for four years and just received its first Michelin star. 

An integral part of the team saw Ashley achieve sous chef of the Fat Duck within 2 years and head chef in 2003. Since 2008 he has been the executive head chef for the Fat Duck group and in 2011, head chef at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London’s Knightsbridge. Ashley will be demonstrating on demonstration stage two at 1.30pm Saturday 7th July.

Remember there will be plenty more celebrity chefs to enjoy at this year’s Dorset Seafood Festival including; Mat Follas, Tim Maddams, Giles Thompson, Richard Bertinet, Silla Bjerrum, and John Wright. A host of local chefs will also join the festival with Russell Brown, Nigel Bloxham, Alex Aitken, Alex Warner, Matt Cook and Mark Hammick sharing their seafood recipes.

For more information and a full programme of events visit



These aren’t necessarily what they’ll be cooking but can be used


Mark Hix

Red Gurnard with Sea Spinach, Steamed Cockles and Brown Shrimps 

Fresh cockles can be as good as any clams, but they do have a tendency to be gritty so before using them, you need to wash them very thoroughly.


250–300g fresh cockles

4 x 200g fillets of gurnard.

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

50ml white wine

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g butter

60g cooked brown shrimps, peeled or whole

a couple of handfuls of sea spinach, trimmed of any thick stalks and well washed

Serves 4


To clean the cockles properly, leave them under cold running water for about 15 minutes, agitating them every so often to get rid of any sand. Check over the gurnard fillets for pin bones, removing any you find with tweezers.

Put the shallots in a pan with the white wine and bring to the boil. Add the cockles and parsley, season lightly and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over a high heat for 2–3 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until the cockles open, then stir in a good knob of butter and the brown shrimps. Discard any cockles that don’t open.

While the cockles are steaming, melt 50g of the butter in a non-stick or well-seasoned heavy-based frying pan. Season the gurnard fillets and fry them skin side down over a medium heat for 3 minutes. Lower the heat, turn the fillets and cook for about 2 minutes on the flesh side.

At the same time, blanch the sea spinach in boiling salted water for 2–3 minutes, then drain well. Toss in a pan over a low heat with a generous knob of butter and re-season if necessary.

Pile the sea spinach onto warm plates, lay the gurnard fillets on top and spoon over the cockles, shrimps and cooking liquor to serve.

Lesley Waters:


Serves 3–4 as a starter

900g (2lb) cooked crab

To season

Lemon juice


Dijon or Grainy mustard

Salt & pepper

For the chilli relish

½ bunch spring onions, finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

small bunch flat leaf parsley, washed, leaves picked from stalks

squeeze lime juice

2tsp olive oil


To serve

Granary or brown bread and butter

Lay the crab on its back and twist off  the legs and claws. Identify the natural line near to the edge of the crab and lightly crack along the line enabling you to    remove and discard the belly shell.

Remove and discard the grey, spongy lungs lining the edge of the crab and the small sac at the top of the body.

Lift out the body of the crab and carefully remove all the meat using a lobster ‘pick’. Place the brown and white meats in two separate bowls.

Crack the large claws and remove the white meat. Poke out the remaining meat from the legs.

Ashley Palmer – Watts’ Recipe

Roast scallops with cucumber, broad beans and mint.

12 scallops

250g Broad beans (padded, blanched & peeled)

1 large cucumber

3 tbsp Finely chopped shallot

2 tbsp Dill (chopped)

2 tbsp Flat leaf parsley (chopped)

2 ½ tbsp Chardonay vinegar

Olive oil


Freshly ground black pepper

Half a lemon


Juice a third of the cucumber and reserve the juice. Peel the remaining cucumber and cut in half. Then cut the 4 sides off the cucumber to leave you with a rectangle heart of the cucumber.

Cut the cucumber sides into ½ cm pieces and set aside.

A great way to cook the scallops would be over charcoal on your BBQ, but alternatively roasted in a pan over high heat would also be great.

Season the scallops with sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, lightly press the seasoning on to the flesh so it sticks and drizzle over a little olive oil.

Season the cucumber hearts and drizzle with olive oil, place on the BBQ and cook for 2 mins per side until lightly coloured and soft.

Grill the scallops about a minute a side, then remove and rest on a plate whilst you finish the garnish,

In a hot pan, pour a thin layer of olive oil and add the cut cucumber pieces. Leave to colour until gently turning to colour further.

Reduce the heat and add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Deglaze with the chardonnay vinegar and reduce until almost all gone.

Add 4 tbsp of the cucumber juice and broad beans and heat gently to ensure the mixture remains moist, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the chopped herbs and serve.

Cut the cucumber hearts in half diagonally, place into the centre of the plate, spoon the broad been and cucumber mix around and place three scallops amounts the hot cucumber. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the scallops and serve

Sprinkle with broad bean flowers of you have had the satisfaction of growing your own broad beans.

Wash and dry the body shell.

Add some breadcrumbs to the brown meat mixture to thicken slightly and bind together. Season with lemon juice, mustard, salt & pepper to taste. Place this mixture down one side of the body shell and pile the white meat on the other side.

To make the relish, toss all the ingredients together and spoon into a serving bowl.

Serve crab with chilli relish & brown bread and butter.

SEAFEAST – The Dorset Seafood Festival raises funds for the Fishermen's Mission - the vital port of call for fishermen and their families.
Fishermen's Mission