The Power List | Marcus Wareing, owner, Marcus Wareing Restaurants
In today’s Power List profile, we take a trip down memory lane with Michelin-starred Chef (and BBC Masterchef judge) Marcus Wareing, as he discusses how his childhood culinary experiences have shaped and inspired his career.
Marcus Wareing is a Chef and Restaurateur, owner of 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.
This week, Walpole will be hosting a private dinner for board directors and members at The Gilbert Scott.
Where do you find your inspiration?
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 Seventies and Eighties, the world of food seemed really interesting to me.
In the culinary world, there are plenty of different ingredients that inspire me and bring out flavour. It’s so simple, but for me, salt is the one thing that enhances flavour and complements savoury dishes incredibly well. Being a northern boy, I’m also 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.
When I’m devising a new menu, I 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.
What keeps you motivated?
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.
Taken from Marcus Wareing’s ‘Taste’ feature published in the 2017 Walpole Book of British Luxury.