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Chef Interview – Marcus Wareing

Achieving three Michelin stars would be a dream come true for Lancashire born chef, Marcus Wareing. He has been on a mission to gain that third Michelin star since the opening of his restaurant – Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley in 2008. Constantly putting out dishes that not only is prepared and cooked with respect but plating it up with finesse and perfection. Working hard and consistency are the main words in his dictionary, and at the moment with two Michelin stars, there’s no doubt Marcus Wareing is one of UK’s most respected chefs.

Marcus first found his forte towards cooking when he enrolled in a cooking college in Southport. Being surrounded in a food-orientated family – his father being the owner of fruit and vegetable business and his brother being a chef, made it clear to why Marcus would choose the path of gastronomy. Graduating college led Marcus to his first kitchen job as a chef at the Savoy Hotel, a year after the job, Marcus headed to Le Gavroche for further training with renowned chef Albert Roux. Helping Marcus along the way with his knowledge of French Cuisine include Pierre Koffman, Guy Savoy and Gordon Ramsay.

Marcus Wareing came to Sydney last year as part of the Sydney International Food Festival. A festival which is held every October of each year which consists of great food, great wines and a line up of talented chefs.

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Me: When and how did you know you wanted to become a chef? Who or what inspired you to cook?

Marcus: I didn’t know I wanted to be a chef until I started at catering college.  I did a two year course and from the day I started I just loved it and felt very inspired.  I started the course in the first place as it was the natural thing to do; my elder brother was already a chef and I was interested in what he was doing.  In addition my dad supplied veg, fruit and potatoes to restaurants and local schools.  Dad worked very long hours so I used to spend time at the warehouse with him helping out which generally meant packing potatoes! He taught me about managing waste – nothing ever got thrown away!

Me: You have clocked hours in a few great restaurants including Le Gavroche with Albert Roux and in France with Guy Savoy, Who has been the most inspirational person you have worked with through your culinary journey so far?

Marcus: It is very difficult to choose the person who inspired me the most.  I learnt so much from all of the ones you mention.  I am still inspired by all of them – look at The Roux family, they are incredible.  Le Gavroche has been open for more than 40 years yet still it has a fabulous reputation.  The Waterside Inn just celebrated 25 years of 3 Michelin stars – how amazing and still the family offer the best hospitality.

Me: Can you tell us about your style of cooking and the inspiration and philosophy behind the menu and your restaurant? What should/will  the diners expect when dining in your restaurant.

Marcus: It’s quite difficult to describe.  Although we are often described as a French Restaurant I am not sure that is very accurate any more. We use French techniques as we have always done but I think the food has evolved.  It is much lighter, we focus on the flavours of the beautiful ingredients.  Our menus and dishes change all the time as new British ingredients become available.  I would never claim to use only English ingredients but I certainly try to follow the seasons.
When dining in the restaurant although the setting is formal, the personalities in my team make it very friendly.

Me: Attaining not 1 but 2 Michelin stars must be hard work, like a military operation in a way, what were your feelings when you received your first star and your second?

Marcus: I think on each occasion it was disbelieve.  The first time I got 1 Michelin at L’Oranger I was 25/26 which was very young and I was not something I had even considered.  Achieving two was the icing on the cake.  It is a pleasure and honour to hold two Michelin stars but of course ultimately I want happy guests!

Me: The new trend of cooking is ‘molecular gastronomy’, many chefs are turning their kitchens into labs, one such as Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria, what do you think about the whole concept of using these methods, do you use ‘molecular gastronomy’ in your cooking as well?

Marcus: I think good luck to everyone.  I do not follow that route although I follow it and enjoy it.  I do not have a scientific lab for research but our food changes continually – it may have a different title but I would not say we ever stop researching or using new ideas.  We use a number of cooking techniques in the kitchen depending on the ingredients we have.  I do not want every dish to taste the same or have the same texture but equally I like to encourage new ideas within my team.

Me: A few people coming into the industry are coming in with a bad attitude; they are not passionate about cooking but want to be a star, the whole idea of ‘celebrity chef’, what are your thoughts about it?

Marcus: Well I think the celebrity chef has put cooking on the map for many people so I cannot really criticize it.  I although think it depends what you want to achieve in life – to cook good food and run restaurants or be on TV.  I am not sure both can be achieved on a full time basis but who knows.  On my recent trip to Sydney I was astounded by the wealth of food and wine knowledge.  Media including TV and the internet play a huge role in sharing this knowledge about food so I think it must be a good think – of course there are extremes.

Me: Your family must be very supportive of your work; do you think your kids will want to be chefs as well in the future or would you try to lead them into another career path?

Marcus: Hmm.  Not sure.  They are all keen eaters!  All three are happy to try food, probably to impress dad and of course they have the opportunity to try many different things which I didn’t as a child.  I do not have the chance to cook with them very often but they all get involved with chopping and baking whenever they can.  The eldest is now 9 so I think he possibly could start to learn.  Actually on holiday this year he did learn the basics of a lasagna!  I just want my children to work hard and be the best that they can.  Once they have a good education I will support them in anything they do – even cheffing!

Me: Favourite ingredient and why?

Marcus: It has to be salt.  Food can be so bland without it! Actually the question is unfair – how can I possibly choose!

Me: Top 3 items you must have in your pantry.

SALT

PEPPER

BUTTER

Me: Favourite restaurant/s to dine in around London?

Marcus: There are many and the scene in London is getting better.  In Knightsbridge in particular we have Bar Buloud and Koffmans with Heston as well.  I love Scotts in Mayfair.  Trinity and Chez Bruce in SW London are local favourites.  Bruno Loubet recently returned from Australia and is receiving great reviews.  Anthony Demetre and Will Smith of Wild Honey and Arbutus fame have just opened Les Deux Salons which I am really excited to try…………there are so many.

Me: Favourite menu to cook on a lazy Sunday?

Marcus: A lazy Sunday would be a roast dinner, probably lamb or it could be a fried breakfast (even for dinner).  I am also really keen on dishes that use every item from the fridge and create great comfort food such as shepherds pie, bolognaise etc.
Sunday is a lazy day but it is the one day a week when I sit down with the entire family to eat so it’s really important.

Me: Great tip when cooking duck.

Marcus: Cook whole very very slowly, then turn up at the end to crisp the skin.

Me: What was the first dish you learnt to cook?

Marcus: I used to make cakes with my mum

At college I cannot remember – it was probably how to make a roux sauce!

Me: Best advice you would give to someone who wants to be a chef and someone who is a chef?

Marcus: Keep trying.  Don’t give up.  Work hard.  Respect those around you and the food you work with.

Me: Having been to Australia now, how do you find the cuisine here compared to London?

Marcus: I liked the cuisine in Australia just I like the cuisine in London, there are good and bad places everywhere you go!  The influences are probably different in Sydney, perhaps more Asian than London but I cannot say that one city is any better than another they are just very different!  I now want to visit Melbourne as I hear its different again.

Me: It was also your first time in Sydney, how did you find it? The people, the places, the opera house, how did it go? 

Marcus: I really enjoyed my trip to Sydney.  It is a beautiful city, I love the way it spreads around the waterways of the harbor. I thought the city was very clean and didn’t seem as crowded as London. It was a fabulous experience to actually see some of the monuments that I normally see on TV on NYE!

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MARCUS WAREING

2 Michelin Stars

S.Pellegrino top 96 restaurant in the world

http://www.marcus-wareing.com/

COOKBOOKS

– How to cook the perfect…..

– One perfect ingredient, Three ways to cook it

– Nutmeg and Custard

Marcus Wareing At The Berkeley

The Berkeley Hotel, Wilton Place

London , United Kingdom SW1X 7RL

(44)  20 7235 1200

http://www.the-berkeley.co.uk/marcus_wareing.aspx

The Gilbert Scott

Euston Road, St Pancras

London, United Kingdom NW1 2AR

(44) 207 278 3888

http://www.thegilbertscott.co.uk/

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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Chef Interviews

 

My Sydney Feast ~> Sepia Restaurant & Wine Bar

One of the very first introductions to Japanese fusion cuisine was demonstrated by Tetsuya Wakuda, the surprising combination of the subtle flavours that Japanese cuisine has to offer is very well complemented with French preparation and techniques. Chef Wakuda’s restaurant Tetsuya’s is no doubt still considered as one of Sydney’s, if not Australias most respected institution.

Tetsuya’s cuisine is the classic fundamentals of Japanese Fusion but what can be done to make it more modern and interesting is the use of jellies, gels and foams.  English born chef, Martin Benn first started his career back home in London at The Oak Room under chef Michel Lorrain, before heading off to work under legendary chef, Marco Pierre White. Arriving in Australia in 1996, Benn clocked hours at Dietmar Sawyere’s Forty one including Tetsuya Wakuda’s Tetsuyas. The accolades that Benn has achieved over the years is amazing, with him also being crowned as this year’s chef of the year. However, the talent doesn’t end here with Benn, along with head chef Daniel Puskas, the dishes that are brought out are carefully inspected with techniques and finesse that are visible on the plate.

Being wanting to dine at Sepia restaurant for a very long time does send excitement to my mind, with many choices on the A la carte menu – I reckon the best gamble to go for is the degustation option.

Bread, Salt and a quenelle of Butter

Kingfish in Dashi Butter

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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in My Sydney Feast ~>

 

Chef Interview – Chui Lee Luk

Singapore-born chef Chui Lee Luk is no doubt one of Sydney’s finest female chefs or dare i say, in the country. Despite being born in Singapore, she spent most of her time in Malaysia and Australia which truly reflects in her cuisine of Modern Australian/Chinese/Malaysian with dishes such as Crisped Pork Belly with Tapioca Pearl Dumpling as a main.

A laywer turned chef, Chui completed her university degree in law but good food, eating out and great company made her think twice of her current career path. Testing the industry with a work experience session with Christine Manfield at Paramount (now Universal) was sufficient to satisfy her need to cook. Clocking hours with chefs such as Kylie Kwong (Billy Kwong), Dannii Chouet, Annabelle Saville and Tim Pak Poy – it is clear to say her culinary knowledge is at its Peak.

Chui is the 4th and current owner of Claude’s which was first opened by French chef Claude Corne. Since then however, Damien Pignolet and Tim Pak Poy had spent their times cooking in this 35 year old establishment. Keep Reading

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Chef Interviews

 

Sydney Food Event ~> Sofitel Sydney Presents – Albert Roux Lunch

In Australia, we have Tony Bilson as our godfather of French cuisine but in the UK, none can go pass the popularity of the Roux brothers. The Roux brothers have come a long way since their arrival to England from France and with little money on their hands, they managed to open up the legendary Le Gavroche in 1967. With passion, dedication and willingness to use the best quality produce, they managed to achieve the highest accolades of three Michelin stars after 15 years in the running.

Albert now resides in London managing his chain of restaurants – Chez Roux whilst the legendary Le Gavroche is run by award winning chef and son of Albert, Michel Roux Jr.

Sofitel Sydney initially organised the Albert Roux event last year but due to volcanic eruption and ash happenings, flights were unable to proceed. Postponing the event to this year was not at all a bad thing, having a full booking of the whole restaurant for lunch shows how popular the Roux brothers are, even in Australia.

Garden Court Restaurant

The Wine Menu

The Lunch Menu

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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Sydney Food Events

 

My Sydney Feast ~> Dessert Detour with Jane Strode of Bistrode

I have to say that there are quite a number of great restaurants along the main street of Surry Hills, Crown Street that is. But have any of you foodies realise that there are many more gastronomical places on the other streets of Surry Hills as well? For instance, you can find the hatted Assiette on Albion Street and the famed Longrain restaurant on Commonwealth Street. So, what am I trying to say is, explore the suburb and who knows, you might just surprise yourself on your findings.

Tucked in the corner of Phelps Street and Bourke Street hides a Jewel, opened in 2005 by Jeremy and Jane Strode, they achieved their very first chef hat after two years in the running. Being the Protege of renowned French chefs, Michel Roux and Pierre Koffman, it is no surprise what Jeremy put up is of excellent quality. On the other hand, Jane has hone her pastry skills under renowned chef Lorraine Godsmark, the ex Pastry Chef of the famous Rockpool Restaurant which makes the dessert menu a bit of WOW factor. Husband and wife team describes their cuisine as British-Australian and continues to strive excellence with the opening of their second restaurant – Bistrode CBD.

If you are looking for a place for a sugar-hit, Jane’s divine creation are sure to make you feel guilty yet cheeky after having one of them desserts. Though the dessert list is small, all of the dishes are made to top bottom perfection.

Chocolate Creme Brulee

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Posted by on November 28, 2010 in My Sydney Feast ~>

 

My Sydney Feast ~> Lanzafàme Trattoria

John Lanzafame, Chef and owner of Lanzafàme Trattoria is a passionate chef specializing in food he grew up with, honest and traditional Italian cuisine. Ex-Executive chef of Peter Evans of Hugo’s, he does amazingly good pizzas with many awards, one of them being the world pizza champion in New York in 2005.

Lanzafàme Trattoria is small and cozy restaurant located in the quiet suburbs of Woolloomooloo on Crown street. I arrived here for lunch with high expectations knowing John’s reputation as a brilliant and amazing chef.

The lunch menu of $15 for entrees, pasta and pizzas is definitely worth a visit, with not only a few choices available but a wide one to pick from (delicious ones as well) it does make you think twice before ordering.

Antipasto

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Posted by on October 29, 2010 in My Sydney Feast ~>

 

Sydney Food Event ~> SIFF BBQ Madness – Pyrmont Growers Markets

It is now October and here comes another year of fantastic events presented by the Sydney International Food Festival, a month of fantastic cuisine and love affair for food. BBQ Madness first kicked off last year with Guest chef, Fergus Henderson of St John’s Restaurant which you might also know him as the master of Nose to Tail eating.

The theme of the BBQ this year was sustainable seafood and having said that, last year was Nose to tail. With producers explaining where each seafood comes from and how its grown, it ignites something in you to want to understand more about their passion and to support their industry.

The line up of chefs this year included

– Warren Turnbull – Assiette

– Massimo Mele – Hugo’s Manly

– Morgan McGlone – Flinder’s Inn

– Richard Ptacnik – Otto Restaurante

– Darren John

and a few more

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Warren Turnbull's Miso Glazed Marlborough King Salmon with Japanese Radish Salad and Aubergine Puree

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Posted by on October 27, 2010 in Sydney Food Events

 
 
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