Walpole Editorial | Taste by Marcus Wareing
Marcus Wareing, owner of Walpole member Marcus Wareing Restaurants, and BBC MasterChef judge puts pen to paper as he discusses his culinary journey – from the Sunday roasts that were the highlight of his childhood to the importance of all six senses in creating Michelin-star-worthy food.
As a chef you have to have an open mind about food. As a kid, you turn your nose up at things like cabbage and sprouts but you love chips and roast potatoes because they taste really good. We didn’t have a very varied diet growing up so there wasn’t a lot to dislike. Instead, we enjoyed Mum’s straightforward cooking – lots of hearty stews, custard tarts, apple pies…
A roast was always on the table every Sunday and this is still my fondest memory of growing up. Becoming a chef was a natural progression for me. During my school holidays, I would help my father, a fruit and potato merchant from Merseyside, deliver fresh produce to local shops and restaurants. I saw a world of catering before I became an adult and loved the atmosphere, the bustle of the kitchens, the characters… As I waited for the chef to tick off the delivery sheet, I sensed that I belonged in these places and felt at home in them. Even then, back in the 1970s and ’80s, the world of food seemed really interesting to me.
Today, more often than not, modern British cuisine leads to London where fine dining is taken as seriously as business and finance. We have so much culinary diversity. If you visit France, you expect a lot of French cuisine. But if you come to London, then you know you are going to get a huge amount of variety from around the world, as well as the best seasonal British ingredients.
In the culinary world, there are plenty of different ingredients that bring out flavour. For me, salt is the one thing that enhances flavour and complements savoury dishes incredibly well. Being a northern boy, I’m accustomed to gravies and sauces. I really enjoy making sauces to enhance a dish. If you ask me what I would make for my last supper, it would be something like a green peppercorn sauce that I would serve with a succulent rib-eye steak and triple-cooked chips.
All senses are important in what I do. Sight is obviously vital because you want things to look good, and when buying ingredients you need to make sure that they are of the highest quality. We all ‘eat’ with our eyes. We want our plate to have the ‘wow’ factor. Then there is the sense of smell. There could be an aroma that comes off the dish that really ignites the senses, and of course, you have to smell food to make sure it’s fresh. I don’t especially rely on my sense of sound when I’m cooking, unless you can count the need to listen to my service staff and customers.
When I’m devising a new menu, I also think that the sixth sense is as important as the sense of taste. You have to have that confidence in your gut instinct, in the sense that you know you are right, you’ve made the right decision: it tastes good, the combinations work, it looks good and smells great. At the end of the day, that’s what it all boils down to.
Find out more: www.marcuswareing.com
Marcus Wareing is a Chef and Restaurateur, owner of Walpole member Marcus Wareing Restaurants which includes three of London’s leading restaurants: the two Michelin-starred Marcus at The Berkeley Hotel, The Gilbert Scott at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel; and his latest, Tredwells, in Covent Garden. He is also a judge on the BBC’s MasterChef TV series.
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