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Marco Pierre White
White in 2012
Born (1961-12-11) 11 December 1961 (age 62)
Leeds, England
Alex McArthur
(m. 1988; div. 1990)
(m. 1992, divorced)
Mati Conejero
(m. 2000, separated)
Culinary career
Cooking style
  • Michelin stars 3 Michelin stars
Current restaurant(s)
    • London Steakhouse Company
    • Wheeler's Fish & Chips
    • Marco Pierre White Steak House & Grill
    • Wheeler's of St James's
    • Mr White's English Chophouse
    • Koffman & Mr White's
    • Marco's New York Italian
    • Marconi Coffee and Juice Bar
    • Bardolino
    • The English House, Singapore

Marco Pierre White (born 11 December 1961) is a British chef, restaurateur, and television personality.[1] In 1995, he became the first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. He has trained chefs including Mario Batali, Shannon Bennett, Gordon Ramsay, Curtis Stone, Phil Howard and Stephen Terry.[2] He has been dubbed "the first celebrity chef"[1] and the enfant terrible of the UK restaurant scene.[3]

Early life

Marco Pierre White was born in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire on 11 December 1961,[4] the third of four sons born to Maria-Rosa Gallina, an Italian immigrant from Veneto, and Frank White, a chef. When Marco was six, his mother died from a cerebral haemorrhage caused by complications from the birth of his younger brother. He left Allerton High School in Leeds without any qualifications and decided to train as a chef like his father.


White first trained at Hotel St George in Harrogate and then at the Box Tree in Ilkley. In 1981, he moved to London with "£7.36, a box of books, and a bag of clothes", and began his classical training as a commis with Albert and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche.[1] He continued his training under Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire, moving to work in the kitchen of Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir,[5] and later with Nico Ladenis of Chez Nico at Ninety Park Lane. He then branched out on his own, working in the kitchen at the Six Bells public house in the Kings Road with assistant Mario Batali.[1]

In 1987, White opened Harveys in Wandsworth Common, London, where he won his first Michelin star almost immediately, and his second a year later.[6] He also won the Newcomer Award at the 1987 The Catey Awards, run by The Caterer magazine.

White's protégés who worked at Harveys include Gordon Ramsay, Phil Howard, Stephen Terry, and Éric Chavot.[7]

He later became chef-patron of The Restaurant Marco Pierre White in the dining room at the former Hyde Park Hotel, where he won the third Michelin star, and then moved to the Oak Room at the Le Méridien Piccadilly Hotel.[8]

In 1995, White became the first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars and, at 33 years old, the youngest chef to achieve three stars to that point.[9][10] His record was surpassed by Massimiliano Alajmo in 2002, who achieved three stars at the age of 28.[11][12]

Although White worked for seventeen years to pursue his ambition, he ultimately found that, in spite of his accomplishments, recognition and fame, his career did not provide him with adequate returns in his personal life. So, in 1999, he retired and returned his Michelin stars.[13]

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. I had three options: I could be a prisoner of my world and continue to work six days a week, 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.[14]

Career change

White announced his retirement from the kitchen in 1999, and cooked his final meal for a paying customer on 23 December at the Oak Room.[1] He also returned all his Michelin stars. After his retirement from cooking, he became a restaurateur. Together with Jimmy Lahoud, he set up White Star Line Ltd, which they operated together for several years before ending their partnership in 2007.[15]

A brightly lit restaurant setting, with tables set, but no people.
Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Bar & Grill Bristol

In 2008, White opened his first steakhouse, the "MPW Steak & Alehouse"[16] with James Robertson in the Square Mile in London. As co-owners, since 2010 they also operated the Kings Road Steakhouse & Grill[17] in Chelsea. James Robertson had worked for White as a maître d'hôtel, between 1999 and 2003. In May 2016 the two restaurants became the London Steakhouse Co.[18]

White had a stake in the Yew Tree Inn, a 17th-century dining pub near Highclere in Hampshire, although following an acrimonious falling out with his business partners the pub was sold. This was the setting for much of "Marco's Great British Feast", screened on ITV in the summer of 2008. In January 2009, it was reported that White was to charge £5 for a pint of real ale at the venue, making the Yew Tree "one of the most expensive places to drink British real ale in the country".[19] White said: "Most pubs undercharge. You're not just paying for beer, you're paying for the place you drink it in and the people who serve it."[20]

In 2010, White met businessman Nick Taplin, owner of a four-star hotel in North Somerset (UK) called Cadbury House and operator of other venues in the UK. Taplin was looking to improve the in-house restaurant offering across his hotel estate and in October 2010, following discussions with White, opened a Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill at Cadbury House as a franchisee. This was closely followed by restaurants at Hoole Hall in Chester and The Cube in Birmingham.

As more hotel owners started making enquiries about a Marco Pierre White restaurant, in 2013, White developed a master franchise with Taplin, and together launched Black And White Hospitality. The business operates a franchise model allowing property owners or investors to open one of the eight Marco Pierre White branded restaurants within their property including Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill, Mr White's English Chophouse, Wheeler's of St James's Oyster Bar & Grill Room, Koffmann & Mr White's, Marco's New York Italian, Wheeler's Fish & Chips, Bardolino Pizzeria Bellini & Espresso Bar and Marconi Coffee & Juice Bar.

White has published several books, including the cookbook White Heat, an autobiography titled White Slave (retitled The Devil in the Kitchen in North America and in the paperback version),[21] and the recipe collection Wild Food from Land and Sea.

TV and film career

Hell's Kitchen

In September 2007, White was the head chef in ITV's Hell's Kitchen television series.[14][22]

In one episode, White said, "I don't think it was a pikey's picnic tonight." The remark prompted criticism from the Commission for Racial Equality. However, the show was defended by an ITV spokesman, who indicated that warnings about its content were given before transmission, and that White's comment had been challenged by one of the contestants, Lee Ryan.[23] The book accompanying the show, Marco Pierre White in Hell's Kitchen, was published on 23 August 2007 by Ebury Press.

White returned to ITV's screens to present the 4th series of Hell's Kitchen in 2009.

White presented Hell's Kitchen Australia for the Seven Network which aired in 2017.[24] White had previously been working with rival programme Masterchef, but quit in retaliation[25] after Matt Preston, a judge on the Masterchef, alleged that White's son spent $500,000 of his father's money on drugs and prostitution.[26]


White appears in UK adverts for Knorr stock cubes and stock pots. In answer to criticisms that he had "sold himself out as a chef" by acting as a brand ambassador for such products he said, "by working with companies like Knorr it allows me to stand onto a bigger stage and enrich people's lives... Michelin stars, they're my past."[27]

In 2013, White apologised after being accused of cultural appropriation over an online video produced for Knorr in which he demonstrated how to cook rice and peas.[28][29]

Other TV work

In 2008, White hosted an American version of Australian cooking competition series The Chopping Block.[30] The series, produced by Granada America, the production company behind the American version of Hell's Kitchen, aired on NBC in March 2009 but was pulled after three episodes due to low ratings. After a three-month hiatus, Chopping Block returned to complete its season.[31]

On 6 July 2011, White was a guest judge on Masterchef Australia mentoring the cooks in an elimination round. On 15 June 2014, he began a week-long appearance on Masterchef Australia presiding over a mystery box challenge, an invention test and a pressure test. He made further appearances in the series in May and July 2015, and May 2016.

On 27 August 2011, White appeared on the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother to set a cooking task.[32]

In 2012, White fronted a new show for Channel 5 called Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars. It saw the UK's best restaurant partnerships balance food with front of house service, fighting for a place in a specially designed studio restaurant, where the top couples are each given their own kitchen and set of diners to impress.[33] It received positive reviews from critics in The Guardian and The Independent.[34][35]

White was a principal judge in Masterchef Australia: The Professionals, which started on 20 January 2013.[36][37] White co-hosted the show with regular Masterchef Australia host Matt Preston.

On 11 December 2014, White appeared on the South African version of Masterchef, which aired on M-Net. He had a cook-along in the final challenge in the finals between Siphokazi and Roxi. On 6 September 2015, White appeared on the New Zealand version of MasterChef, which aired on TV3 (New Zealand). He was the Head Chef/Mentor of a team challenge consisting of the final 8.

He partnered with the BBC to make digital content.[38]


Treatment of customers and employees

During his early career working in the kitchen at Harveys, White regularly ejected patrons from the restaurant if he took offence at their comments.[39] When a customer asked if he could have chips with his lunch, White hand-cut and personally cooked the chips, but charged the customer £25 for his time.[39]

During his time at Harveys, White would regularly act unpredictably, from throwing cheese plates onto the wall to assaulting his head chef who had recently broken his leg. He later said that he "used to go fucking insane".[40] A young chef at Harveys who once complained of heat in the kitchen had the back of his chef's jacket and trousers cut open by White with a sharp paring knife.[41] White also once made a young Gordon Ramsay cry while Ramsay worked for him, and later said, "I don't recall what he'd done wrong but I yelled at him and he lost it. Gordon crouched down in the corner of the kitchen, buried his head in his hands and started sobbing."[42]

Matt Preston

Following comments made by MasterChef Australia judge Matt Preston about Marco Pierre White Jr spending $500,000 of his father's money on drugs and prostitution,[26] White stopped making guest appearances on the show after the 8th season and joined the rival programme Hell's Kitchen Australia in retaliation.[25] In 2016, whilst on The Kyle and Jackie O Show, Preston was asked about Marco Jr.’s time on Big Brother UK, which included his alleged on-air sex and the above admission of purchasing illicit drugs and sex work. Preston said: "I think it is that terrible thing when you have kids that go off the rails... the drugs might be a little bit of a worry". White later said of Preston that "I will never forgive that man [Preston]... with my hand on my mother's grave I will get that man."[43] White eventually returned to the programme in season 14, after Preston had left the show.[44]

English wine and West Country food

In September 2017, White opened a new restaurant in Plymouth. At the opening, he was critical of the quality of English wine, describing it as "nonsense" and also saying, "London is the No 1 food destination, full stop. It has the talent and (the people who can pay) the prices ... How many three-Michelin-star restaurants does Cornwall have? None."[45]

He went on, however, to praise the efforts of a rival hotel in the city, the Duke of Cornwall, describing it as "a lovely place". He also added that while he had not eaten food produced by Nathan Outlaw, a Cornish Michelin star chef, he had read his books and seen his recipes and believed "he cooks very well".[46][47][48]

Personal life

White has been married three times. His first wife was Alex McArthur, whom he married at Chelsea Register Office on 8 June 1988.[49] They had a daughter, Letitia, before divorcing in 1990.[50]

White met 21-year-old model Lisa Butcher at a London nightclub, and they were engaged within three weeks.[51] Engaged for two months, Butcher sold the coverage of the wedding in a £20,000 deal with Hello! magazine. The wedding took place at the Brompton Oratory on 15 August 1992.[52]

In 1992, White began an affair with Matilde Conejero, the bar manager at The Canteen in Chelsea Harbour,[53] and divorced Butcher for her. The couple had two sons and a daughter, and were married at the Belvedere restaurant in Holland Park on 7 April 2000. After White became friends with city financier Robin Saunders, Conejero suspected an affair between the two; they had a fight in January 2005, after which White spent 14 hours in the cells of Notting Hill police station.[54] They separated some time later.[55]

White has been a supporter of the Conservative Party[56] and the football team Manchester City.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Richard (5 August 2007). "White Heat". The Times. London, UK. Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  2. ^ Ramsay, Gordon (2006). Humble Pie. UK: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-722967-4.
  3. ^ Radio Times, London, 1–7 September 2007.
  4. ^ Hennessy, Charles (28 February 2011). Marco Pierre White: Making of Marco Pierre White, Sharpest Chef in History. Random House. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4464-0875-9.
  5. ^ Raphael Brion (1 December 2012). "Heston Blumenthal Rejects the Claim He Trained Under Marco Pierre White – Feuds". Eater National. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  6. ^ "ANNALS OF COOKING – Bad Boy In The Kitchen". The New Yorker. 27 April 1998. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  7. ^ White, Marco Pierre (2006). "14. Beautiful Doll". The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef. Bloomsbury. p. 127. ISBN 9781596919327.
  8. ^ "Marco Pierre White to retire from the kitchen". 24 September 1999. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Why Michelin chefs are handing back their stars". 14 January 2020.
  10. ^ Canavan, Hillary Dixler (21 September 2017). "Why Do Chefs 'Give Back' Their Michelin Stars?". Eater.
  11. ^ "Massimiliano Alajmo's Michelin Star Restaurants". Food & Wine.
  12. ^ "Big interview: Leeds's own enfant terrible of British cooking Marco Pierre White". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  13. ^ Barber, Lynn (21 October 2007). "What's Eating Marco? (Observer Food Monthly interview)". The Observer. London, UK. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  14. ^ a b Mark Lewi (25 April 2007). "Marco Pierre White on why he's back behind the stove for TV's Hell's Kitchen". Caterer and Hotelkeeper. London, UK. Retrieved 26 April 2007.
  15. ^ "Marco Pierre White Profile". Caterer & Hotelkeeper. London. September 2006.
  16. ^ "Home". London Steakhouse Co. Archived from the original on 22 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Kings Road Steakhouse & Grill". Archived from the original on 22 January 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  18. ^ London Steakhouse Co. website,; accessed 14 June 2016.
  19. ^ Nick Wyke (27 January 2009). "The £5 pint has arrived". The Times. London, UK. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
  20. ^ "Marco Pierre White pulls in £5 a pint". Daily Mirror. London, UK. 28 January 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
  21. ^ Marco Pierre White (2007). The Devil in the Kitchen. London, UK: Orion. ISBN 978-0-7528-8161-4.
  22. ^ "Hell's Kitchen is back!" Archived 27 September 2007 at, My Park Magazine.
  23. ^ Alex Fletcher (8 September 2007). "Hell's Kitchen hit by racism row just". Digital Spy.
  24. ^ Lallo, Michael (14 August 2017). "Hell's Kitchen: MasterChef's Matt Preston has last laugh over Marco Pierre White". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  25. ^ a b "MARCO PIERRE WHITE REVEALS REASON WHY HE QUIT MASTERCHEF". 8 May 2017. Archived from the original on 8 May 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  26. ^ a b Gray, Lorna (9 May 2017). "Marco Pierre White Jr's foul-mouthed tirade against Matt Preston will shock you (to say the least!)". Retrieved 14 May 2017..
  27. ^ "Marco Pierre White: I've had to evolve". 5 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2011.
  28. ^ "BBC Radio Nottingham - Reya El-Salahi, "Chef's Jamaican-style dish apology not good enough" - Nottingham". BBC. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  29. ^ Okolosie, Lola (30 October 2013). "Marco Pierre White, that was no Jamaican dish you made | Lola Okolosie". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  30. ^ "NBC Puts Chefs on Chopping Block". 18 March 2008. Archived from the original on 21 March 2008.
  31. ^ "The Chopping Block: NBC Cancels Reality TV Show After Three Episodes". TV Series Finale. 27 March 2009. Archived from the original on 31 March 2009.
  32. ^ "Celebrity Big Brother Marco Pierre White sets cooking task" Digital Spy 27 August 2011.
  33. ^ "Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars". Channel 5. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  34. ^ Sam Wollaston (21 June 2012). "TV review: Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars; Dead Boss". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  35. ^ Tom Sutcliffe (22 July 2012). "Last Night's Viewing: Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars, Channel 5, The Men Who Made Us Fat". The Independent. London. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  36. ^ "MasterChef Australia". TenPlay – MasterChef Australia. Archived from the original on 22 September 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  37. ^ David Knox (15 January 2013). "The Greatest Show on Earth". TV Tonight. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  38. ^ "Marco Reveals Secrets of the Stove". mpwrestaurants. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  39. ^ a b Ferguson, Euan (21 April 2001). "Marco: Man and Boy". The Observer. London, UK. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  40. ^ Bill Buford (2006). Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. New York: Knopf. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-4000-4120-6.
  41. ^ "Marco Pierre White – in pictures". The Guardian. 18 January 2015.
  42. ^ "Yes, Marco made me cry. (But who's laughing now, says Gordon Ramsay)". The Independent. 29 July 2006.
  43. ^ "Celeb chef Marco Pierre White's angry feud with Matt Preston: 'I will never forgive him'". 8 May 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  44. ^ "MasterChef Australia: May 29 – June 9". TV Tonight. 29 May 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  45. ^ Freeman, Martin (9 September 2017). "Celebrity chef didn't mince his words when talking about this county". Plymouth Herald. Archived from the original on 14 August 2022. Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  46. ^ "Marco Pierre-White says only a numpty would buy English wine". The Telegraph. 10 September 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  47. ^ "MARCO PIERRE WHITE LISTS 'NONSENSE' ENGLISH WINE AT LONDON RESTAURANT". 12 September 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  48. ^ Joel Cooper (10 September 2017). "Celebrity chef opens Devon restaurant...then slams the Westcountry and our wine!". Devon Live. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  49. ^ "The only woman I have ever truly loved". The Telegraph. 31 July 2006.
  50. ^ "'Celebrity chefs are just talentless people with big personalities': Marco Pierre White on three marriages, parenting and his chickens". Evening Standard. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  51. ^ Mark Palmer (29 July 2006). "Marco Pierre White: I will never speak to Gordon Ramsay again". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK.
  52. ^ White, Marco Pierre (31 July 2006). "The only woman I have ever truly loved". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  53. ^ Marco Pierre White (30 July 2006). "Mati: the wife I pushed over the edge" Archived 1 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. 30 July 2006, The Daily Telegraph (London).
  54. ^ White, Marco Pierre. "Mati: the wife I pushed over the edge". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  55. ^ "Marco Pierre White's wife scrawled insults in blood on wall of chef's home". London, UK: Telegraph. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  56. ^ "Political advantages to celebrity backing?". 26 May 2004. Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2010.