The matter-of-fact Marco Pierre White talks restaurant peeves, movie stardom, cookbooks and more…

A legendary British chef, an acclaimed author, and soon to be immortalised on the big screen, we chew the fat with the ever-pragmatic Marco Pierre White ahead of his new cookbook launch…

Let’s talk about Essentially Marco. What can we expect? My new [cook] book is all about creating fantastic dishes and amazing tastes without spending hours in the kitchen. I think people buy cookery books for ideas and to ignite the imagination.

“Restaurants serve all these small portions and lots of courses. I’m not into turning dinner into a canapé party.”

You don’t think it’s for the recipes then? No, not really. It’s for the ideas. People want to create something special that doesn’t require technical abilities – where you can cook something in a pan, and serve it in that same pan straight to the table. That way it stays hot. I hate tepid food. Restaurants tend to serve tepid food and I hate it.

marco-pierre-white-bookA recipe from his new book Essentially Marco

Really? You get cold food? Yes, you get it everywhere. Restaurants serve all these small portions and lots of courses. I’m not into turning dinner into a canapé party. I’d much rather see a big pan of risotto that’s taken to table. Everything stays really hot then. It’s about eating. Cooking shouldn’t be about trying to impress. It’s about feeding people well. The main occasion of dining is about the company anyway, it’s not about the food. 

Does that apply to restaurants too? Absolutely. Food is way down on the list of priorities. The environment you sit in is paramount. If you don’t feel comfortable, you won’t enjoy it. Number two is service with a smile. Number three is price, and number four is food. The package – and learning to unite all these – is everything.            

Look at the way people are living their lives today. People are more causal now. They are less fussy because they lead busier lives. Simplicity impresses me. I crave the ordinary. I don’t want fluff. 

The word in Hollywood is that your autobiography will be made into a film starring Michael Fassbender and directed by Ridley Scott. You must be psyched? Well, Ridley Scott has bought the rights and Michael has first option to play me. Michael’s very down to earth. And Ridley’s cool. It’s very flattering to sit in Ridley’s boardroom. It’s surreal, really. You sort of just go along with it. 

Any nerves about seeing your life on the big screen? After taking the scriptwriter to Yorkshire, where I grew up, I questioned whether I did the right thing. Do I really want to see my mother’s death acted out? It is what it is. I’ve no reservations really. 

Marco-and-MeLaura from team What’s On chatting to Marco Pierre White.

Do you reckon Dubai will feature in the film? Not at all, no. I came to Dubai after I had won three stars and the movie ends in Italy with my mother. It’s about experiences. Going from humble beginnings to working my way towards winning the stars. Now I tend to enjoy the simple life again. I like building my farm and hanging out with my animals.

“People come to your restaurant for certain dishes… It becomes conveyor belt cuisine.”

Would you say you’re going full circle now, from humble beginnings to humble ends? (Laughs) That’s what happens when you’re nearing your death.

Towards the end of your career when you gave away the stars, what was going through your mind? It all became boring. I was like a well-oiled machine. You don’t change much then. People come to your restaurant for certain dishes and you’ve got to keep up the consistency. It becomes conveyor belt cuisine. 

Since you opened your restaurants in the UAE, how do you feel the foodie scene has changed over the years?  I don’t know Dubai well enough to say, but I am fascinated by it. I have franchises but I don’t really come here. Every time I do come, the city changes. I think Sheikh Mohammed is a genius – to have had this vision and to create this incredible place. The number of restaurants has increased exponentially, and that’s no bad thing. The more you do the more you attract. It’s a really clever place.

WANT TO MEET MARCO? He will be signing copies of Essentially Marco on Tuesday 26 April at Kinokuniya bookstore at The Dubai Mall at 6pm.

Essentially Marco is published by Motivate. It is available in all major bookstores in the UAE and on