Marco Pierre White is often labelled as the first celebrity chef from the world of Michelin starred restaurants and gourmet hotels in the UK. He has been instrumental in introducing the world to the intricacies of British cuisine and has carved out a niche for himself as a well-known restaurateur and television personality. With his suave looks and culinary expertise, he is a force to be reckoned with. His competitors have a tough time measuring up to him as White has set some very high standards in cooking skills. Gordon Ramsay, Curtis Stone and Shannon Bennett are just a few of the numerous celebrity chefs who have been trained by Marco Pierre White and who were inspired by him to become what they are today!
White’s Initiation into the Culinary World
White’s successful race to the top in the gourmet hotel industry started when he initiated his training at Hotel St George in North Yorkshire and followed it up with training at the Box Tree in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. The major turning point in his career came when he moved to London at the age of 16 (with “£7.36, a box of books and a bag of clothes”) and started his training with Albert and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche. This is where Albert gave him the nickname “my little bunny”. Moving ahead under the able guidance of several mentors, White honed his culinary skills and in 1987 opened Harvey’s in London as its Head Chef. Here he won 2 Michelin stars within a span of 2 years. This was followed by his becoming the chef-patron of The Restaurant Marco Pierre White at the Mandarin Oriental where he earned his 3rd Michelin star at the age of 33. Incidentally he was the youngest chef to have earned this distinction at this time.
Retirement and a New Beginning
White is one of the greatest cooking talents the world has ever seen, but he is known for his defiant ideology. He would turn away guests from his restaurants if he didn’t like their criticism of his preparations. 1999 was a milestone in White’s career. He returned his Michelin stars as a precursor to his retirement from the highly competitive scenario of earning Michelin stars. In his own words – “I could live a lie and charge high prices and not be behind the stove or I could give my stars back, spend time with my children and re-invent myself.”
White took the next step forward and became a restaurateur, setting up White Star Line Ltd in partnership with Jimmy Lahoud which would be the first of several branded restaurants through the years. Presently White is a major stakeholder in the London Steakhouse Co which is managed by James Robertson. Brands carrying his name are the “Marco Pierre White – Steakhouse Bar & Grill” and “Marco’s New York Italian by Marco Pierre White”, and they have restaurants in various gourmet hotels across Britain.
White does not only have his hands in Michelin starred restaurants in the UK but has his imprints in the deep seas too. He is the dining consultant to P&O cruises. The White Room is a fine dining restaurant aboard the cruise ship MS Venture which was launched in 2008. White’s legacy has been passed on to the next generation in the form of books authored by him, of which White Heat, White Slave (his no-holds-barred autobiography) and Wild Food from Land and Sea are the most well-known.
White has also made his mark on television as a celebrity chef who has appeared on numerous cookery shows such as ITV’s Hell’s Kitchen television series, The Chopping Block and Masterchef Australia.