Staff Case Studies

  • Martin Sweeney
  • Dustin MacMillan

Martin Sweeney

Martin Sweeney: Head Chef at Tramshed


How long have you been working for HIX? 

Over 6 years now.


Which was the first restaurant you ever worked in?

Smolletts restaurant in Cameron House Hotel on Loch Lomond.


What was the last London restaurant you went to, apart from your own?

Paradise Garage in Bethnal Green. I went for my birthday and have been a few more times, the cooking is some of the best I’ve had in London and it’s only round the road from home.


What made you want to be a chef?

My cousin influenced me he thought I was mad he may have been right but seeing him make a dish from nothing blew me away.


What or who has been the biggest influence on the way you cook and why?

My mum for sure she was a great cook and always had patience with teaching me, I could use some of that patience.


What dish are you most proud of and why?

My smoked ox cheek dish that helped me beat Mark at challenge HIX. Jay Rayner chose it and I tell the story often when I’m drunk.


Which other chefs do you most admire?

I actually admire lots of people that I’ve worked with through the years. They have went off to do other projects and taken some big risks, that’s pretty impressive and always spurs me on.


What’s the best part of your job?

The people you work with. The sheer variety of people that work in hospitality is its best asset. Weird, wonderful and downright mental but always interesting. It’s great to find out how other people all ended up in the same place.


And the worst?

Lack of sleep. It’s just brutal getting up some mornings.


What would your last meal be?

Chinese style BBQ ribs. My first great love. Always.


Do you have a chef’s shortcut that you can share with us?

The old lemon in the microwave. A 30 second ping and It gets loads more juice out.


What advice would you give to anyone looking to enter the industry?

Understand that it’s really tough. Come to terms with it but also enjoy it. Not a lot of people actually like their jobs. And cooking is one that you can really love and will take you places you couldn’t imagine.

Dustin MacMillan

Dustin MacMillan: Group Creative Bars Manager


How long have you been working for HIX?

Just over 4 years. In my time I have done probably everything I could do besides be a chef.


What was the first bar you ever worked in?

Oh yeah, it was a dirty old mans pub in Canada that tried to look like an English pub. It was called ‘The sly fox’ which I then named a cocktail after. When you go abroad and they have an English pub, which looks very staged and very fake, it was like that!


What was the last London restaurant or bar you went to, apart from your own?

Patricia’s, I was there last night. It’s an 80 years old basement bar with an unmarked blue door down by Soho square, a rather interesting place where you need to go through the toilets to smoke. Go and find it and tell me what you think.


What made you want to be in hospitality?

Nothing… I kind of fell into it. It’s an obvious choice when you move from the other side of the world. Then you find a place you like and it make a future.


What do you do in your spare time?

Get drunk? I like to travel to new places whenever I can, see something new and drink! You know, something to rejuvenate the broken soul!


What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a customer?

A guy requested that I snog his wife and her friends to get a drink after closing time, this was in a dodgy private members place I worked at in Notting Hill.


What is your cocktail at Mark’s Bar?

Hard as Fuck Hemingway (as he looks up at Harland Miller’s artwork) and a beer of course. Together they make something rather intoxicating.


What’s the best part of your job?

The unexpected. It turns a mundane day into something beautiful. You never know who’s going to walk through the door. Also the people, without people, there is no job.


And the worst?

The worst part of my job… hmmm… I wouldn’t say there is a bad part. One day you may have an irate customer and the next, you could be mopping the floor but even that is good, it cleans away the stress from the night, ready for the next.


What advice would you give to anyone looking to enter the industry?

I would say its simple; you need to give a f*** about everything. When you care about anything, it carries the rest of your existence, if you care about one thing, it helps to solve the worlds problems. Even the smallest detail.
Show up in person, and on time and always be present. I can teach people to do anything, but if their heart’s not in it, then theres no point.


What’s your favourite HIX moment?

All the greatest moments I can’t speak of. Sometimes you just have to keep them to yourself, you know.


What the best place you’ve been to with HIX? 

Marrakech twice. That’s all I can say because I signed a non-disclosure agreement, if I say anymore I could get sued. Of course all the events and festivals with HIX have been so much fun.


What would your last meal be, accompanied with what tipple?

Mac and cheese, but proper mac and cheese, or something like a penne bolognese OR turkey and gravy! Oh yeah! And an ice-cold Canadian beer, no wait… Dutch beer.

At this point Laura interrupts Dustin to claim its a boring choice. Dustin laughs, then gets up and cracks open a beer (Innis and Gunn), Scottish may we add, not Canadian or Dutch!