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.
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.
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!
2 Michelin Stars
S.Pellegrino top 96 restaurant in the world
– 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
The Gilbert Scott
Euston Road, St Pancras
London, United Kingdom NW1 2AR
(44) 207 278 3888
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