Growing up in Devon, MacKenzie paid close attention to his uncle, who was head chef at a Sheffield hotel. After training at Birmingham’s College of Food, he honed his craft working for Allan Hill at Gleneagles and the famously mercurial Nico Ladenis at Chez Nico and at Sevendials Restaurant (now Sam’s of Sevendials). Mackenzie settled in at Gingerman Restaurant at the boutique hotel Drakes, which was later refurbished and rebranded as The Restaurant at Drakes when he took over as head chef.
The Good Food Guide 2010 rated MacKenzie’s cookery to be the best in Brighton, lavishing praise on his ‘exemplary cooking skills, innovative ideas, impeccable ingredients and… element of excitement.’
While he’s justifiably proud of the local fish - game, Sussex steak and pork belly are also specialties. As View Brighton points out, he ‘does British comfort food to perfection’. While his food is widely noted for its elegance and moreish bonhomie, he takes a no-nonsense approach to his work - when Private Dining Rooms asked him for advice for home chefs, MacKenzie responded simply, ‘Make sure your knives are sharp!’