The famously hot-headed chef Marco Pierre White shares his considerable cooking knowledge in a course called Delicious Food Cooked Simply on a new e-learning service from the BBC named Maestro.
The first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars (and to hand them all back), takes us on a gastronomic journey through his humble beginnings as a 16-year old chef, through to the pinnacle of fine-dining at Harvey’s, and later his eponymously named restaurant, into his retirement and his career as a television personality. There are 32 lessons in the course, each drawn from a pivotal time in the chef’s career.
“Cooking is not about recipes. It’s a philosophy,’ says White. The lessons are for everyone, all levels, from novice home cooks to experienced pros, there’s something for everyone to learn from the chef’s direct style of teaching.
“It’s not about recipes. This is about food. The understanding of food. How to take something as simple as a potato and take it somewhere it’s never been before. It’s impossible to cook 3-star food at home without a team, but what I can do is impart that 3-star understanding and show you how to introduce it into your cooking at home.”
“Always taste, taste, taste, and season each thing individually,’ he says, while demonstrating how to cook a tortilla.
“You can’t just walk away and leave her. You have to mother her. You have to invest all your time and understanding into making the perfect tortilla."
Once it is golden, he turns it onto a plate, tucking in the edges as gently as a parent tucks in a child at bedtime.
"If you burn your fingers, it’s fine. It’s a growing pain. Have confidence with your fingers," he says.
"So many restaurant menus are written by accountants. I’ve never done a stocktake in my life. I’ve never worked to a gross profit. Cooking is about generosity," he says.
“Chefs today have turned meals into canapé parties. You get knick-knacks on a plate and they’re tepid at best. Food must be served hot, so take the pan to the table. It simplifies everything. I want to inspire, not impress.”
Today he is more the elder statesman than enfant terrible of British gastronomy, and his easy, engaging manner on his Maestro course makes for enthralling viewing. He never fails to entertain.
“Never forget,” says Marco, “when a chef screams and swears – he may even throw something – it is not personal, it is service. He has to shout his orders.
“Perfection only lasts seconds. Food starts to die on the plate when it gets cold. I’m not saying I was a saint, but if I was such a hellraiser how did I have time to win three Michelin stars?
“I put a tremendous amount of thought and energy into everything I did. I made huge sacrifices. I went to work in the morning when my children were sleeping and came home at night when they were sleeping. I worked 100 hours a week. I’m not fiery. This reputation was created by the media. But, your emotional intelligence doesn’t grow when all your energies are going into food.”
The Maestro online course will feature many other talents sharing their knowledge, including one of White’s former protégés Heston Blumenthal, who will teach Ingenious Cooking At Home.