10 Things You Didn’t Know About Marco Pierre White

The original rock star chef has led quite an interesting life

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Marco Pierre White

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. 

Mario Batali Was His Assistant When They Were Both Very Young

Mario Batali Was His Assistant When They Were Both Very Young

The Daily Meal / Getty Images / Rob Kim / Stringer

While running the kitchen at a pub called Six Bells on the King’s Road in London, White’s apprentice was none other than a young Mario Batali, who has just completed his training at the city’s Le Cordon Bleu. 

He Earned Three Michelin Stars By Age 33 — Though Not All at the Same Restaurant

White’s restaurant Harveys earned a Michelin star shortly after opening in 1987, and was awarded its second star the following year. The Restaurant Marco Pierre White received a Michelin star in 1994, making White not only the youngest chef to earn three Michelin stars, but the first British chef in history to do so. 

He Retired and Returned His Stars At Age 38

White shocked the culinary world in 1999, when, like a great musician retiring right after releasing a double-platinum album, he returned his Michelin stars and retired from the kitchen. “I gave Michelin inspectors too much respect, and I belittled myself,” he told The Caterer in a great interview. “I had three options: I could be a prisoner of my world and continue to work six days a week; I could live a lie and charge high prices and not be behind the stove; or I could give my stars back, spend time with my children and re-invent myself. I never left the stove, I never lived that lie. I’m not that trusting that someone could do what I did. That’s why I bowed out.”

It’s Rumored That he Made Apprentice Gordon Ramsay Cry

Gordon Ramsay honed his skills during a nearly three-year stint at Harveys, but left after becoming fed up with White’s “rages and the bullying and violence.” It’s reported that on more than one occasion White reduced Ramsay to tears. The relationship between the two chefs has been strained ever since. 

He Was Notorious for Throwing Customers Out, and Once Charged £25 for a Plate of Fries

He Was Notorious for Throwing Customers Out, and Once Charged £25 for a Plate of Fries


White had no qualms about throwing unruly customers out of his restaurants, and would do it regularly. (“There was always a reason. I was trying to create something special, and they were trying to spoil it,” he told The Guardian.) He also once famously spent an hour making an off-menu order of chips for a customer who requested them — but then charged him £25 (about $32 in today’s money) for his troubles. 

He Once Cut the Back of an Employee’s Uniform After He Complained of Heat

Another (completely true) story tells of a young apprentice at Harveys who complained to White about the heat in the kitchen. White grabbed a paring knife and sliced open the back of the cook’s chef’s jacket and pants in order to give him some ventilation. The cook never got his uniform fixed. 

He Caught Some Flak for a Statement on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’

Famously reluctant to appear on television, White surprised the food world once again when it was announced that he’d be appearing as the head chef on the UK’s Hell’s Kitchen in 2007. Shortly into the series’ run, however, he said “I don’t think it was a pikey’s picnic tonight” in referring to a meal, which offended some and was noticed by the Commission for Racial Equality (“pikey” is a derogatory term for Romany or lower-class Brits). The controversy quickly passed, however. 

His Only American Show Bombed

Even though White’s had great success on television across the pond and around the world with appearances on MasterChef Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand (he also hosted a British show called Marco Pierre White’s Kitchen Wars in 2012), his one American outing ended in failure. Called The Chopping Block, the show premiered on NBC in March 2009 but was pulled after only three episodes due to low ratings, returning after three months to quietly complete its only season. 

Michael Fassbender May be Playing Him in an Upcoming Biopic

Michael Fassbender May be Playing Him in an Upcoming Biopic

Shutterstock/Denis Makarenko

It was announced in 2015 that White’s memoir, The Devil in the Kitchen, would be turned into a film helmed by Ridley Scott. Michael Fassbender is attached to play White.

He Once Drank £28,000 Worth of Wine in One Sitting

According to Piers Morgan, one evening he, White, and two other friends drank six bottles of wine whose cost totaled £28,000 (about $35,600), including a 1911 Château D'Yquem. White signed the empty bottles for Morgan, who still has them. On the Yquem, White wrote “£1,500 a glass, love Marco.”