because we can eat everyday.
While I was thinking of what to write as a first post in this section, I stumbled across an old video of one of the greatest chefs of all time. And the more I thought of it, the more I was convinced that there is no other person suited to be in the first post than this person.
This is Marco Pierre White. Some of you may recognise him from the television series, Hell’s Kitchen UK and Marco’s Great British Feast. But to cooks, commies and chefs around the world, he is the trend starter, the spark that began the cult of the celebrity chef.
Marco left high school in 1977 with no qualifications in the search of culinary training. He went under the watchful eye of three mighty chefs, Albert Roux, Pierre Koffman and Raymond Blanc. All three of these chefs were trained in classical French cuisine and are all still running kitchens, academies or associations.
In 1987, Marco stepped out of training and opened Harvey’s in London. In the first year of opening, Marco was awarded his first Michelin star and received his second just a year later. After earning his two stars, Marco moved on to two new restaurants, The Restaurant Marco Pierre White in the former Hyde Park Hotel, followed by The Oak Room, where he won his third and final star at the age of 33, claiming the title of youngest British chef to earn the highly acclaimed three Michelin stars.
Marco also had a fiery temperament and would regularly kick out customers if he or any of his staff had taken insult from a comment made by them. He said in his documentary, “They think that because they are paying they can be obnoxious, but here in Harvey’s, we don’t give them a bill, we just show them the door.”
While working all of these years, Marco had mentored a large number of chefs, many of whom have begun building restaurant empires of their own, most notably Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay. In fact, if you watch Marco’s show back in the 90s, you would be able to spot an unusually timid Gordon Ramsay, obeying the commands of his mentor without complaint.
But in 1999, at the age of 38, Marco returned his stars and retired from the restaurant business altogether. He stated in an interview, ‘I was being judged by people who had less knowledge than me, so what was it truly worth? I gave Michelin inspectors too much respect, and I belittled myself.’
Marco left the kitchen in order to do the things that he had missed out when he was young. The multiple years in the hot kitchens of England had left him missing one thing that he always wanted, a childhood that everyone else had. He went away to do what a typical child would have done in England. He hunted, he fished and he got to understand nature for what it was. Marco’s famous quote was and still is up to this day, ‘Mother Nature is the true artist, we are just the technicians.’
And how true is that statement? Chefs today that want to do so much to one dish, thus over complicating it and not allowing the true flavours of an ingredient to shine. Marco’s rule is ‘let the ingredients show themselves off’. By keeping his dishes simple and clean, Marco proved the concept that sometimes less means more.
His dishes have been reconstructed to bring his principle into reality. He still creates wonderful french classics such as steak au poivre and his technique for creating scallop dishes screams Provence. But he has turned majority of his attention back to his roots and has started creating a new legacy in modern British cooking, churning out dishes that celebrate classic English produce such as belly of pork and steak with flavoured butters.
Marco continues his passion for food in his multiple businesses spanned across England in such restaurants as L’Escargot and The Yew Tree Inn, all still bearing the Pierre White principle of simplicity is best as Marco continues his pursuit to prove that Mother Nature is really the true artist.
I remain a great admirer of Marco’s legacy and I respect everything that he has done since he first stepped into the kitchen. He is a real inspiration to all chefs and his diligence is a real example to follow both in and out of the culinary industry.
All pictures courtesy of Google Images..