Marco Pierre White Michelin Stars
Despite being one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, Marco Pierre White currently holds zero Michelin stars - because he handed them all back in 1999. In 1994, the Restaurant Marco Pierre White in London was awarded three Michelin stars, making White, at just 32, the youngest chef to date to receive Michelin’s highest accolade. But just five years later, the ‘enfant terrible’ of the UK restaurant scene shocked the culinary world by hanging up his apron and giving up his hard-won Michelin stars.
Marco Pierre White’s restaurant career began at a young age, after leaving school with no qualifications and landing a job as a kitchen apprentice at a local restaurant in his native Yorkshire. Aged 19, he took a chance and moved to London, with only ‘£7.36, a box of books and a bag of clothes’ to his name, and began training as a commis chef under the legendary Roux brothers at Le Gavroche. His first restaurant, Harvey’s received one Michelin star in 1988, the year after opening, and a second in 1990. His third star, for the Restaurant Marco Pierre White, in the dining room of the former Hyde Park Hotel, was the culmination of years of hard work, and made White not only the youngest three-Michelin-star chef, but the first three-Michelin-star British chef ever.
So why give something up he’d worked so hard to achieve? According to White himself, he had achieved ‘everything a chef would endeavour to become,’ and wanted to slow down, ‘spend time with my children and re-invent myself’. He has also spoken about the monotony of trying to maintain his three Michelin stars, saying the focus had switched from innovation and creativity to painstaking monotony.
White went on to become a successful restaurateur, opening several restaurant chains that offer simple, well-cooked food. He has famously claimed that ‘Michelin star restaurants are not what people want,’ and that a more casual, relaxed style of dining is the future for restaurants. And it seems that White is not the only chef to feel this way - in the intervening years, several other chefs have also returned their Michelin stars, calling the award a ‘burden’ and a ‘curse’, and expressing frustration at not being able to cook or present their restaurants in the way that they choose. Following the coronavirus outbreak of 2020, even more chefs have stated their intention to switch to a more informal style of dining, saying that lockdown has taught them to appreciate living life at a slower pace.
One person who doesn’t look set to be handing back his Michelin stars any time soon is White’s former protégé and long-time sparring partner Gordon Ramsay. Both chefs are known for their fiery tempers, and their already-volatile relationship degenerated into a bitter public feud many years ago, with White declaring he would never speak to Ramsay again.
It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that their attitudes towards the Michelin guide are also at odds. Unlike White, Ramsay has fully embraced Michelin dining. Over the years, he has been awarded a total of 22 stars across 16 restaurants, and was briefly one of two chefs with the highest number of Michelin stars in the world, a title he shared with Alain Ducasse in 2008. These days, he has been overtaken by Ducasse, but still holds an impressive seven stars across four restaurants.
White, on the other hand, does not seem to have softened in his attitude towards Michelin in the decades since he handed back his stars. In 2018, Michelin reportedly wrote to White, offering to include his new restaurant, The English House in their Singapore Guide, where it would have joined other celebrity chef endeavours such as Cut by Wolfgang Puck. White, however, turned Michelin down again, his final word on the matter being, ‘I don’t need Michelin and they don’t need me. They sell tyres, I sell food.’
Marco Pierre White Restaurants
Marco Pierre White currently owns several restaurant brands;
Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Bar and Grill specialises in classic steakhouse favourites, curated by Whte himself. There are branches throughout the UK, with two in the Republic of Ireland, and one in Abu Dhabi.
Wheeler’s of St James’s was established in 1856 and has been hailed ‘the world’s oldest and finest fish brand’. Wheeler’s offers classic seafood dishes, reworked by White, and has restaurants in London and Liverpool.
Mr White’s English Chophouse is a traditional English Chophouse, serving the finest cuts of meat in glamorous surroundings. There are branches in London and Dover.
Marco’s New York Italian is a family-friendly restaurant that serves a mix of traditional Italian dishes and all-American favourites. There are branches throughout the UK and one in Abu Dhabi.
Marconi Coffee and Juice Bar is an informal café space serving delicious pastries, coffee, juice and smoothies.
Bardolino Pizzeria, Bellini & Espresso Bar serves authentic Italian Dishes, inspired by White’s Italian family and named after the birthplace of his mother. There are branches throughout the UK.
Wheeler’s Fish & Chips is a restaurant and takeaway serving the perfect fish and chips, along with other seaside delicacies. Currently with one branch in Dover.
White also runs two stand alone restaurants - The London Steakhouse Co., a casual but elegant British Steakhouse in the centre of London, and The English House, an English-themed restaurant in Singapore.
See below for a full list of Marco Pierre White’s restaurants around the world:
United Arab Emirates: