Sunday, May 16

How Marco Pierre White’s White Heat Launched a Culinary Revolution | Food

METERatt Tebbutt remembers exactly where he got his copy. “I found it at Whiteleys in Bayswater,” says the chef and television host. “I was 17 years old and it just resonated. It was cool and sexy. It was all about glamor and excess. “Sat Bains, from the eponymous two Michelin stars in Nottingham, found hers in a charity shop in the mid-1990s.” I read the entire book in an hour and my head exploded. Who was it? This guy? He had a rock attitude. ”Chef Marianne Lumb says he’s her” bible “- Tom Kerridge describes him as a huge influence. The message is clear. For legions of cooks White heat by Marco Pierre White is not a cookbook, although it does contain recipes. It is a sacred text, only with knives, flame and caviar added.

No one has done a better job of hiding Marco Pierre White’s early, glittering brilliance than Marco Pierre White at the end of his career. The exhausting whiskey and smoked herring pâté that they served me at one of their steakhouses in 2009 is still repeated to me. There is a growing chain of restaurants named after him that, while adorned with vast images of the chef, less often house the man himself. Customer reviews have not always been positive. His 2006 autobiography written by ghosts, about which he may not have been entirely polite in my review for this article, was filled with gloating tales of angry outbursts and petty fights. (To be fair, he’s not a big fan of mine either. He once announced that I was specifically uninvited to his new restaurant at the Hotel Indigo in Cardiff).

But none of that detracts from the impact of Harveys, a small restaurant on Wandsworth Common, southwest London, which opened in 1987. It was the launching pad from which White became the first British-born chef to win. three Michelin stars. . When Harveys opened, he had already worked in Britain’s great classic restaurants: Le Gavroche by the Roux brothers, Le Manoir by Raymond Blanc and La Tante Claire by Pierre Koffmann. Within weeks, there was feverish talk of his own menu of outrageously luxurious dishes: oyster tagliatelle with caviar, roasted rabbit feuilleté with spring greens, caged peach melba with sugar.

Hot at a trot: grilled pig's trotters.
Hot at a trot: grilled pig’s trotters. Photography: Michael Boys

The literary agent Mike Shaw was a regular from the beginning, along with the late Bob Carlos Clarke, the highly regarded photographer. They were intrigued by how these fabulous plates of food could be coming out of such a small kitchen. “Eventually, Bob couldn’t hold back anymore,” says Shaw. “Small camera in hand he went to look, running backwards, ejected by Marco, complaining about the heat and the knives.” Later, White went out to chat, and from those conversations came the idea for the book. Shaw felt that “they should record all of this before it becomes successful. From the confusion, noise and heat came the title “.

Carlos Clarke became a fixture in the kitchen. “It was a tiny space,” says chef Stephen Terry, now of the Hardwick near Abergavenny, who was part of the original Harveys brigade, alongside Gordon Ramsay and Phil Howard. “Carlos Clarke was a lovely man, but he was always getting in the fucking way.” What emerged from those shots was a portfolio of iconic, grainy black and white shots that captured a moment. It helped, of course, that White’s cheekbones were so sharp at the time that he could cut his hand on them. Plus, he was more than ready to take on the chef role as a rock star. Here are pictures of pans full of flames, of cooks rolling over each other, of White slicing huge scallops from the shell, hand fuzzy.

'Outrageously luxurious': peach melba.
‘Outrageously luxurious’: peach melba. Photography: Michael Boys

Another page had pocket photos of famous diners like Koo Stark and Keith Floyd. And then after the barely contained chaos of the front section, there are the Michael Boys food images, a sudden cut of color against monochrome. “What I always liked about food shots is the precision,” says Stephen Terry. “It all makes sense. It’s not messy.” White has often been described as the beginning of something. Given that the media flocked to him, there is no question that he was. He was at the forefront of the British restaurant revolution. But the French classicism of the food also makes it seem like the end of something: 1987 also saw the opening of River Café and Kensington Place, in West London, serving the antitheses of their food.

However, what really gives the volume its arrogance is the outrageous text. “You are buying White heat why do you want to cook well? Why do you want to cook Michelin stars? Forget it, ”the introduction begins. Go buy a saucepan. Do you want ideas, inspiration, a bit of Marco? Then maybe you’ll get something out of the book. “He was barely 30 years old and was already talking about himself in the third person. A haunting image of White is captioned:” At the end of the day it’s just food, isn’t it? ” willing to dismiss out of hand. “This is unpleasant; It’s a horrible dish, ”he says with a sip of his portion of chocolate. “It is outright vulgarity. It is a dish invented for the suburbs; It should be called ‘chocolate suburbs.’ “Hilariously, Harveys was set in a suburban shopping parade.

I am now destined to describe my culinary adventures with the book, but none of the chefs I spoke to said that they had ever executed any of the recipes. Nobody bought it to cook. They bought it for a bit from Marco. Includes Pierre Koffmann’s pig trotters stuffed with chicken muslin. I did that locked up last summer, when he missed restaurants and was desperate. I don’t need to do it again. Instead, I give their lemon tart a shot. The recipe is strange. Without saying it, it provides the ingredients for two cakes. Although it says it is for an eight-slice cake, it doesn’t give a measure of tin. The dough is too dry and unworkable. It’s almost as if Marco Pierre White isn’t really trying to provide a useful recipe. With improvisation I get something slightly edible, but I quickly conclude that this really is not a cookbook for people like me. Or anyone for that matter.

In 2015, a 25th anniversary edition of White heat It was published, full of testimonials to the brilliance of the book from the chefs it had influenced. One of them was the young man from Nottingham who had only been able to afford it because he found it in a charity shop. “How crazy is that?” Sat Bains says. Three decades after its first publication, there is no doubt: a certain type of chef White heat and Marco Pierre White still matter.

White Heat 25 by Marco Pierre White (Mitchell Beazley, £ 30) is available from

News snacks

Let’s start with a little indulgence. Wiltshire Truffles, which, like so many food companies, has gone from catering to restaurants to selling to the general public, has entered into a partnership with Brett Graham of closed Ledbury. They are selling a truffle cream, essentially a truffle mayonnaise. A pound of every purchase goes to the homeless charity Streetsmart. There is also the £ 45 Ledbury Truffle and Honey Ham, made with Windsor Park pig feet, 20g truffle and Aynhoe Park honey. Visit

In the meantime, Edinburgh’s much-loved Gardener’s Cottage has introduced UK delivery of its own smoked salmon, made with hand-cured RSPCA Guaranteed High Welfare Scottish Salmon. The Finish at Home Supper Kit costs £ 38 per head and includes a starter of their beet-cured oak smoked salmon with wild garlic, smoked tomato and olive focaccia, followed by smoked sea trout with asparagus and thyme butter sauce and lemon (

With enviable optimism, the 2021 summer festival circuit shows signs of life. One of the most recent to announce is Bigfoot, which describes itself as the UK’s first craft beer and music festival, to be held in June at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire. For the purposes of this column, what is striking is the gastronomic offerings, from restaurants such as 10 Greek Street and Patty & Bun, along with a variety of chefs such as Rovi’s Neil Campbell, Ramael Scully, Andrew Clarke and the barbecue expert. Genevieve Taylor. Visit

Email Jay at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ jayrayner1

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