Americans often don’t know who Marco Pierre White is — which is probably why he was the third most often Googled chef this year, after Anthony Bourdain and Guy Fieri. But if you’re British, there’s no way you haven’t heard of him, because not only has he been a major player in the UK restaurant scene for nearly 30 years, but also because he’s also a frequent judge on British cooking competition shows. Even if you’re already familiar with him, we’ll bet that there’s a lot you still don’t know; if you’ve never heard of him, now’s the time to get on board.
Marco Pierre White was born in Leeds in 1961 and left home at age 16 to get classical training as commis at the renowned Le Gavroche in London. He worked his way up through the ranks, and in 1987 opened his first restaurant, Harveys, in the capital’s Wandsworth neighborhood. He followed that up with The Restaurant Marco Pierre White in 1993, and shortly thereafter moved on to the Oak Room at Le Méridien Piccadilly. During this time, he racked up Michelin stars, trained chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, and Curtis Stone, and got into hijinks that made him infamous throughout the country and are largely unprintable in a family publication such as this. In 1990 he published White Heat, which cemented his reputation as the enfant terrible of the British dining scene, the original rock star chef, and it’s still widely regarded as the definitive cookbook of his generation. And then, just like that, he hung it all up and never cooked in a restaurant kitchen again, instead focusing his attention on becoming a restaurateur.
In the world of British restaurants, there’s the time before Marco Pierre White and the time since Marco Pierre White. His rebellious, hot-tempered, controversial, yet charming and good-humored nature has endeared him to chefs and TV enthusiasts alike, and his style of cooking sparked a revolution in British food that’s still ongoing today. Without Marco Pierre White there wouldn’t be Gordon Ramsay, there probably wouldn’t be Anthony Bourdain, and there would be far fewer decent restaurants in Britain. Read on for 10 things you didn’t know about this legendary and hugely influential chef.