Hailed by some as the first rockstar chef, Marco Pierre White is a British chef, restaurateur and TV personality. Known for his Michelin-starred restaurants and fiery temper in the 80s and 90s, he has since mellowed into an elder statesman figure, and is now much-loved for his TV appearances and recipes.
Born in 1961 in the North of England to an Italian mother, who died when he was still a child, and an English father, White left school with no qualifications and began training as a chef at restaurants in his native Yorkshire. Aged 19, he moved to London, with ‘£7.36, a box of books and a bag of clothes’, and began training as a commis chef under Michel and Albert Roux at Britain’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche.
He opened his first restaurant, Harveys, in 1987, and was awarded a Michelin star the following year. A second star came in 1990, and a third in 1995 for The Restaurant Marco Pierre White, in the Hyde Park Hotel, London. At just 33, White became the youngest chef ever to be awarded three Michelin stars, and the first Briton ever. During his meteoric rise to fame and success, White was also responsible for training some other famous names in the world of cuisine, including Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. He was notorious for his unpredictable mood swings, however, reportedly reducing a young Gordon Ramsay to tears early in his career. Nevertheless, he has been an inspiration to many, and is often asked by journalists for the secrets to his success. If you want to know his answers, check out Marco Pierre White’s 10 Rules for Success.
Always unpredictable, just four years after achieving his dream, White announced his retirement from the kitchen, declaring that he had achieved ‘everything a chef would endeavour to become,’ and stating his desire to ‘spend time with my children and re-invent myself’. He is now known for his TV appearances in shows such as Hell's Kitchen, The Great British Menu, and Australian Master Chef, multiple restaurants across the UK and Ireland, and of course, his recipes.
His chicken chasseur is a hearty French classic with a rich, flavourful sauce. Chef’s top tips: coat the chicken in flour for a golden, caramelised colour and a thicker sauce, and always remember to pour alcohol around the side of the pan so it runs under the chicken and cooks properly.
To make Marco Pierre White’s Chicken Chasseur, you will need:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp plain flour, for coating
1 small chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Or 8 chicken thighs
Or 8 chicken breast fillets (skin on or off as preferred)
2 shallots, very finely chopped (100g or 3.5 oz)
50 ml (3 ½ tbsp) brandy, optional
100 ml (7 tbsp) white wine
1 chicken stock pot
600 ml (2 1/2 cups) tomato juice (with an optional touch of gravy browning added in for extra colour if desired)
250 g (9 oz) button mushrooms, finely sliced
3 tbsp tarragon, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and finely diced
A few sprigs of fresh parsley to garnish
1. Gently heat half of the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. The oil should be hot, but not so hot that it scorches the floured chicken
2. Spread a layer of flour on a plate or a tray, and coat the chicken pieces evenly and thoroughly, shaking off any excess flour. This will add a golden-brown colour to the cooked chicken and help to thicken the sauce.
3. Put the floured chicken pieces into the hot olive oil, skin side down, and fry without moving the pieces until golden-brown underneath. This should take around 8-10 minutes. Next, turn the chicken and fry until browned on the other side
4. Finely chop the shallot and add to the frying pan, placing the shallot under the chicken so that the shallot cooks
5. If you are using brandy, pour it in around the edge of the pan so that it runs underneath the chicken. Cook for 2-3 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
6. Add the wine in the same way, pouring it in around the sides of the pan, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate and reduce the acidity.
7. Next, add the chicken stock pot and the tomato juice (with gravy browning if using). Shake the pan to gently work it in and turn the chicken pieces until fully coated in the liquid.
8. Bring slowly to the boil to allow the chicken stock pot to dissolve, then add the tarragon and simmer for 5 minutes.
9. While the chicken is simmering, take a separate frying pan and heat the remaining olive oil.
10. Slice the mushrooms and add to the second pan, then fry them for 3-5 minutes. Next, add in the parsley and diced tomato, shaking the pan to mix everything in well.
11. Spoon the mushrooms, parsley and tomato over the chicken and garnish with sprigs of parsley.
12. Serve immediately.