A maverick who gave up his three Michelin stars, Chef Marco Pierre White was in India recently for spearheading the ‘World On A Plate’ festival in Delhi. The Britisher was the youngest chef at 33 to have received a Michelin star for his restaurant Harveys, which he started at the age of 24. Among the world’s best chefs who have worked under him are Gordon Ramsay, Shannon Bennet, Curtis Stone.
He has been called the ‘Godfather of Modern Cuisine’, but says “I don’t believe in labels” and he would like to open a “democratic restaurant” in India. He has been part of many TV shows on food, authored books (White Heat and White Slave) and opened the MPW Steak & Alehouse with James Robertson in Square Mile, London and later Kings Road Steakhouse & Grill in Chelsea in 2010. The two restaurants are now known as the London Steakhouse Co since May 2016. ‘Marco Pierre White – Steakhouse Bar & Grill’ and ‘Marco’s New York Italian by Marco Pierre White’ are franchised brands with outlets in hotels throughout the UK. He will be visiting India again in April 2020.
Season 5 of ‘World On A Plate’ comprised curated dinners, masterclasses and pop-ups of 14 restaurants from Delhi with contests at DF Avenue, Saket. The festival ended with awards. White has come twice for the same to India.
This is your third visit to India. What was the first time like?
I never travel with expectations. When I landed in Mumbai for the first time, I was amazed by the smell of spices on the road. It was lunch time and I have never seen so many people having lunch on the streets. I am so fascinated by India and the hospitality it offers.
What do you like about Indian cuisine?
This cuisine is so good and I don’t think any place uses their spices the way India does. And when I see the young chefs here, I think they will really take this cuisine to another level because that’s where it is supposed to go.
Any dish that you really like in India?
I only see deliciousness. One morning I had a dosa and I loved it. During my first visit to India, I was recommended an Indian breakfast. In London, we are used to having bacon and eggs for breakfast. But this was a feast, I could not finish the entire plate. So, on my next trip, I only asked for a plate of fruit. I like the lamb curry here as it is with bones. In the UK, we don’t get curries with bones–bones give you a chance to use your fingers and that’s a delightful way of eating.
Who is a good chef?
All good chefs like to eat. They taste their food and they experiment. I always encourage chefs to enter competitions because it’s not about who wins but about how much knowledge and learning you take back.
How do you define good cuisine?
I think the best food I have had is cooked by my friends’ moms. I enjoy that food.
You have been to Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. Which other city would you like to see in India?
It would be good if someone kidnapped and took me to every village and town! But I have heard a lot about Kashmir and I would like to visit there sometime.
Will we see a Marco Pierre restaurant in India?
I want my restaurant to be a democratic space, which means it should be affordable and accessible to all. I don’t want the restaurant to be a Michelin star one which only caters to a niche. Everyone should enjoy the food.