Marco Pierre White passes on top tips to catering learners

Weston College catering learners have had the opportunity to pick the brains of one of the world’s top chefs.

Marco Pierre White visited the College’s Grove Restaurant and Kitchen this week for a question and answer session with learners.

Marco was interviewed by Matthew, a Commis Chef Apprentice, and Josh, currently studying the Professional Cookery Award. Among a series of searching questions, they asked what it was like be a world-renowned chef, about his industry experience and for some top tips.

Matthew also asked Marco to name the strangest combination of food he has tasted.

“I’m a classicalist – I don’t like strange combos,” answered Marco. “I like salt and vinegar, cheese and onion – who wants salmon with liquorish?!

“In my opinion the more you do to food the more you take away from the food. I believe that, as chefs progress, dishes become simpler because they start to have confidence in themselves. So, have confidence in yourself.”

Marco shared an inspirational story about leaving Allerton High School in Leeds without any qualifications. After deciding to train as a chef, he began working in the kitchen at the Hotel St George in Harrogate, before moving to the Box Tree in Ilkley.

Arriving in London as an 19-year-old with “£7.36, a box of books and a bag of clothes”, Marco began his classical training as a commis chef under Albert Roux and Michel Roux at Le Gavroche – one of the UK’s top restaurants.

Aged just 24, he and a business partner opened their own restaurant – Harveys – and, nine years later, he became the first British chef and, at the time, the youngest chef be awarded three Michelin stars.

During these years, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and a host of now well-known chefs all benefitted from his tutelage. These include Bryn Williams, Matt Tebbutt, Robert Reid, Thierry Busset, Jason Atherton and James Stocks.

Josh asked if Marco had any advice for those coming to the end of their course.

Marco said: “Trust people around you, work as a team and stay focussed. Take advantage of opportunities that are presented to you.

“You may have to make personal sacrifices to achieve your dream so don’t look back and have regrets. The more you work the quicker you learn; the more you invest, the more you will take back.

“Knowledge is key, so find a chef who can teach and inspire you.”

Matthew, who hopes to open his own restaurant one day, appreciated the opportunity to attend the inspirational event.

He said: “It was great to speak with Marco. It was interesting to hear his thoughts about the creation of dishes and his honesty about how tough the job can be. “It’s great that the college have the contacts to give us this opportunity and the guest chef masterclasses we benefit from as part of our course.”

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