Interesting to hear the chef's side of the story ... well, kinda. White's rise within the world of top British restaurants may have seemed meteoric, but he banged around many a kitchen on his rise to 'rock star chef'' status. My impression of him, as I read his life story, is that he is a hard working Brit with a constant urge to be the best and prove himself a top notch chef, entrepreneur, restauranteur, whatever. He was certainly a 'sponge' that soaked up technique, food sensibilities of French haute cuisine, kitchen organization, food presentation technique, cost management, et cetera, as he worked the kitchens of great restaurants such as La Gavroche and La Tante Claire ... all this from a kid who never attended cooking school, but learned from his father, a career restaurant chef from Leeds, in the north of England.
Coming of age during the 80's, White worked hard during restaurant hours and hung out during off hours with a young party set. His tale recounts run ins with celebrities and prominent social personalities. The irony is that he tends to observe the scene and not actively participate and that's probably a good thing, as that era was rife with raves, cocaine, punk culture, and AIDS. Chef White spent his time dancing around the perimeter of major parties and saving his energy for honing his skills in the restaurant kitchens of his employers.
White's rise as a chef was meteoric and his reputation for being explosive and downright rude when it came to demanding (or equally rude) customers became a side show to his culinary genius. I was turned off at the descriptions of his confrontations with various celebrities and rude restaurant parties and I must admit some of the food he describes cooking holds no fascination for me. Pig trotters, lamb sweetbreads, most offal, and truffles are not high on my list of 'must haves', so the sophistication of his cuisine escapes me, but it is certainly eye-opening to know just the amount of quiet obedience one must pay to the chef when one is an underling in the kitchen and it appears that Marco Pierre White paid his dues.
After reading this autobiography, I went back looking for a signature dish that I might try my hand at. I'll contemplate the asparagus mousse ... and see what the addition of chicken will do for it . On second thought, perhaps I'll look through some regional cookbooks from England and pick a simple country dish from the north of England to honor his humble beginnings for unlike, MPW, I have no desire to have three Michelin stars, prove myself to any world class foodie culture, or perfect kitchen craft. I just want a comforting plate of food on the table when I sit down to my supper.
Still, I have great respect for one so driven. And he sure was a looker, back in the day!