Marco Pierre White
(m. 1988; div. 1990)
(m. 1992, divorced)
(m. 2000, separated)
|Cooking style||French, British and Italian cuisine|
Marco Pierre White (born 11 December 1961) is a British chef, restaurateur, and television personality. He has been dubbed the first celebrity chef, and the enfant terrible of the UK restaurant scene.
In 1994, at age 32, White became the first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars. He has trained chefs Mario Batali, Gordon Ramsay, Curtis Stone and Shannon Bennett.
White was born in 1961 in Leeds, England. He was the third of four sons born to Frank White and Maria-Rosa Gallina, an immigrant from the Veneto region of Italy. White left Allerton High School in Leeds without any qualifications. White's father was a chef, and White decided to train as a chef as well. He first trained at Hotel St George in Harrogate and then at the Box Tree in Ilkley. In 1981, he went 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.
He continued his training under Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire, moving to work in the kitchen of Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir, 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.
In 1987, White opened Harveys in Wandsworth Common, London, where he won his first Michelin star almost immediately, and his second a year later. He also won the Newcomer Award at the 1987 The Catey Awards, run by The Caterer magazine.
During his early career working in the kitchen at Harveys, White regularly ejected patrons from the restaurant if he took offence at their comments. 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. During his time at Harveys he would regularly act unpredictably, from throwing cheese plates onto the wall to assaulting his head chef who had recently broken his leg. "I used to go fucking insane", White said about this time. 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, wielding a sharp paring knife. White once made Gordon Ramsay cry when Ramsay worked for him in Harveys early in Ramsay's career. "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."
Besides Ramsay, White's other protégés who worked at Harveys were notoriously Phil Howard, Stephen Terry, and Éric Chavot.
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.
In 1994, at the age of 32, White became the first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars.
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.
"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."
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. He also returned all his Michelin Stars. After his retirement, 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.
In 2008, White opened the MPW Steak & Alehouse with James Robertson in the Square Mile in London. As co-owners, since 2010 they have also operated the Kings Road Steakhouse & Grill in Chelsea. James Robertson had worked for White as a maître d'hôtel, between 1999 and 2003. Since May 2016 the two restaurants have become the London Steakhouse Co, a successful partnership and are, as of June 2018, the only restaurants worldwide in which White is a major shareholder.
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". 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."[better source needed]
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 and The Cube.
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 an influential cookbook White Heat, an autobiography called White Slave (entitled The Devil in the Kitchen in North America and in the paperback version), and Wild Food from Land and Sea.
In September 2007, White was the Head Chef in ITV's Hell's Kitchen television series.
At one point during the series, controversy ensued when 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. 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. Following comments made by Masterchef judge Matt Preston about White's son's spending $500,000 of his father's money on drugs and prostitution, White joined this rival programme in retaliation.
White is seen in UK adverts for Knorr stock cubes and stock pots, a Unilever brand. 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."
On 18 March 2008, it was announced that White would be the host of an American version of the Australian cooking competition series The Chopping Block. 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.
On 6 July 2011, White was a guest judge on Masterchef Australia mentoring the cooks in an elimination round. On 15 June 2014, White began a week-long appearance on Masterchef Australia presiding over a mystery box challenge, an invention test and a pressure test. On 17 May 2015, White began his second week-long appearance on Masterchef Australia, in Week 3 of Series 7. On 12 July 2015, he returned for a second week on Masterchef Australia Series 7, entitled "Marco Returns Week". On 8 May 2016, White began his third year running, and fourth week-long appearance on Masterchef Australia, this time Week 2 of Series 8.
On 27 August 2011, White was a houseguest on the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother to set a cooking task.
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. It received positive reviews from critics in The Guardian and The Independent.
White was a principal judge in Masterchef Australia: The Professionals, which started on 20 January 2013. 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.
Following comments made by MasterChef Australia judge Matt Preston about White's son's spending $500,000 of his father's money on drugs and prostitution, White joined the rival programme Hell's Kitchen Australia in retaliation. In 2016, while 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 workers. 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". Since quitting MasterChef Australia, Marco Sr has said that "I will never forgive that man [Preston]…with my hand on my mother's grave I will get that man."
In September 2017, White opened a new restaurant in Plymouth, Devon. At the opening, he was critical of the quality of English wine, describing it as "nonsense" and caused controversy[clarification needed] by 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."
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".
White has been married three times. His first wife was Alex McArthur; they were married at Chelsea Register Office on 8 June 1988. He has a daughter, Letitia, from the two-year marriage which ended in 1990.
White then met 21-year-old model Lisa Butcher at a London nightclub. They were engaged within three weeks. 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.
In 1992, White began a relationship with Matilde Conejero, the bar manager at The Canteen in Chelsea Harbour and the couple went on to have two sons and a daughter. The couple 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. White and his wife had a fight, after which White spent fourteen hours in the cells of Notting Hill police station in January 2005.
White is a supporter of the Conservative Party and of Arsenal.