Often touted as “The greatest Chef you’ve never heard of,” Marco Pierre White has been a principal pillar in the culinary world since his first restaurant, Harvey’s, opened in London in 1987.
Though this devil in the kitchen gained a notorious reputation for being temperamental yet so talented—he became an icon of British cooking. White mentored a new generation of budding chefs during his 17-year culinary career, including Gordon Ramsay and Curtis Stone.
5 Facts About Marco Pierre White
1. Teenage Marco Pierre White moved to London with £7.36, a box of books, and a bag of clothes.
Soon after high school, Marco Pierre White left Leeds for the metropolitan with a dream of being a cook. He began training as a Commis at Le Gavroche under the tutelage of French brothers Albert and Michel Roux.
White interned at a few other renowned kitchens run by acclaimed chefs Pierre Koffman and Raymond Blanc while honing his skills enough to open Harvey’s in 1987.
2. White earned three Michelin Stars by age 33, then returned them at 38.
“People think because I won three stars with Michelin that I must have been ambitious. But it was nothing to do with ambition. It was to do with fear of not being good enough. It was to do with my fear of failure. If I was ambitious, then it was ambition by default. It was all about doing my job well.”
By age 33, White had earned three Michelin stars, making history as the youngest chef to achieve such an accolade. He was awarded his first two at age 28 and was the first British national to receive a star.
At 38, suffering from exhaustion and high blood pressure, White announced his retirement from the kitchen, returned his stars, and moved behind the scenes. Handling menu design and development, White partnered with restaurateurs to create a string of restaurant franchises across the UK.
3. White made Gordon Ramsay cry.
It is no secret that White was the devil in the kitchen. There are countless stories of him bullying and tormenting his proteges with white-hot-heat. His teaching approach would not fly, nor should it, in today’s kitchens. Mario Batali quit after White threw hot risotto at him.
A maitre d’ once fucked up a cheese plate, and Marco Pierre White chucked each slice of cheese onto the tiled wall. Several people went over to try and clean it up, and White yelled at them to leave it so every time the maitre d’ saw it, he would know not to make the same mistake again.
White still claims he has been the only one to break Gordon Ramsay. He never recalled what exactly Ramsay did, but he wrote in his memoir that Gordon crouched down in the corner of the kitchen, buried his head in his hands, and started sobbing after their altercation.
4. White Applied The White Heat To Rude Customers.
Marco Pierre White had a method for dealing with rude or obnoxious customers in his restaurants. It was called “the Whoosh”.
“Here’s how it worked. A phalanx of waiters would swoop in on the offending table and clear away everything, including half-filled wine bottles, in a moment or two. At this point, the bemused diners might still be expecting fresh silver, port and chocolate cake. Instead they got Mr. White himself. He’d stride into the dining room and seize their tablecloth (whoosh!) with a bullfighter’s flourish. The humiliated guests didn’t have to pay, but their evening was over.” wrote the New York Times.
5. MPW was a brand ambassador for Knorr Boullion Stock
White admits that he has always used Knorr products to make the stock at his three-Michelin-star restaurant. Still, if he did use any instant bouillon products before signing the promotional contract with Unilever in 2007 (he reportedly received US$1.9 million from the company), he never mentioned it before 2007.
“Knorr stocks are found in professional kitchens more often than you’d think, he said, and chefs often use it to intensify the flavor of their homemade stocks … his mother always used Knorr bouillon and that Knorr’s new product is a lifesaver … use bouillon instead of salt in recipes, such as when cooking pasta.”
Stay tuned for more fun facts that you might now know about other famous chefs.