MARCO PIERRE WHITE
note: For a more detailed look into the life and career
of Marco Pierre White it is highly recommended that
you read his biography, The Devil in The Kitchen <click
Marco Pierre White Biography
savant of the kitchen or prime time celebrity chef?
Reclusive restaurateur or headline hunting publicity
junky? Creator of enduring culinary masterpieces or
peddler of generic, celeb-endorsed Italian grub?
The truth is, at some point in his thirty year career,
46 year old Marco Pierre White has been all these things.
As a young apprentice from a working class family of
chefs in Leeds, White displayed the flair in the kitchens
of culinary legends including Albert Roux, Pierre Koffman
and Raymond Blanc that would make him at the age of
32, the youngest Brit ever to win three Michelin stars.
He first came to national prominence in 1987 when Egon
Ronay gave him a rave review as head chef of the seminal
Harvey's in Wandsworth (now Chez Bruce). Classic dishes
such as tagliatelle of oysters and pigeon en vessie
were captured in the influential White Heat cookery
book, along with White's gaunt, straggle-haired "Jagger
of the Aga" persona in photographer Bob Carlos
Clarke's iconic portraits.
". . . taking a job at Harveys was like joining
the SAS. We were a small unit of hard nuts."
~ Marco Pierre White (The
Devil in the Kitchen)
While White wowed foodies and guides alike, winning
the modestly proportioned neighbourhood restaurant two
Michelin stars (and at the same time training numerous
future culinary stars including Gordon Ramsay), the
mercurial chef soon became better known for throwing
members of his celebrity-packed customer base out on
the street and for his 15 week marriage to model Lisa
spotlight returned to White's cooking skills in 1995
however when Michelin bestowed a third star on The Restaurant
in the Hyde Park Hotel, the grand dining room he opened
in partnership with hotelier Rocco Forte just 18 months
earlier. He repeated the trick in 1998 with the even
more opulent Oak Room at Le Meridian in Piccadilly.
At the same time as becoming a three star chef, White
was also becoming a restaurateur, opening the trend
setting Canteen restaurant with actor Michael Caine
and renowned London restaurant operator Claudio Pulze
in Chelsea Harbour in 1992.
Since then, numerous London restaurants including The
Criterion, Mirabelle, Drones, Quo Vadis, The Belvedere
and L'Escargot have at various times come successfully
under White's control with a succession of business
partners, many of whom White no longer speaks to. White's
only certified failure to date has been the fate-temptingly
named Titanic restaurant and bar near Piccadilly Circus
which sunk without trace in 2002.
In 1999 in a headline-grabbing, dramatic move White
"handed back" his stars to Michelin and retired
from the professional kitchen. His restaurant empire
remains a very movable feast, but currently includes
the likes of Marco at Chelsea football ground, Luciano's
in St James, London and The Yew tree pub in Hampshire.
In additon, he has struck an unlikely business partnership
with celebrity jockey Frankie Dettori to open the Frankies
chain of middle-market Italian restaurants in London
and Dubai. He has also put his name to The White Room
restaurant aboard the Ventura cruise ship.".
"The day Marco stopped cooking was one of
my stomachs saddest." ~ A A Gill The
Sunday Times food critic
Although his tempestuous third marriage and bitter
divorce from former Canteen waitress Mati Conejero continues
to make headlines, Marco appears to be successfully
transforming himself from firebrand chef to cosy household
In 2007, after shunning television for most of his
career, Marco followed in the footsteps of Gordon Ramsay
(a former close friend to whom he no longer speaks)
and fronted ITV's reality game show Hell's Kitchen.
He has since signed a £1m deal with the network
and is currently appearing in Marco's Great British
Feast. Later this year, he is due to appear on the American
show The Chopping Block. His autobiography White Slave
Devil in the Kitchen) was published in 2007.
It's not easy to sum up Marco Pierre White so far,
but maybe the George Best of the kitchen comes close;
a prodigious talent who retired too early and has frittered
his time away on projects that arguably haven't done
his true abilities full justice. But even if there'll
never be another Harvey's or The Restaurant, there's
still time for one of the most successful and influential
British chefs of all time to put a few more in the back
of the culinary net.
Andy Lynes is a freelance writer specialising in food,
drink and travel - see andylynes.com
for more info.
are fingers for?" . . . . . "Fingers
are for burning!" ~ Marco Pierre White
you want to know more then Marco Pierre White's autobiography
The Devil in the Kitchen is is well worth reading.
order a copy of The Devil in the Kitchen <click
04 July 2008