Marco Pierre White
Marco Pierre White has been known as the enfant terrible of modern gastronomy - a cliché that has been with him for a long time. But the title is no exaggeration for a prodigy who once run Harveys, one of England's most iconic restaurants, and who worked with acclaimed chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, and Robert Reid. At 33, he became the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars (he won his first two aged 28 and, at the time, he was the youngest chef also to achieve such an accolade).
White is Scottish on his father's side, and his mother, who died when he was a child, was Italian.
His career began early: soon after leaving high school in Leeds (where he was born in 1961) without any qualifications, he decided to be a cook. Arriving in London as a 16-year-old with "£7.36, a box of books and a bag of clothes", he began his classical training as a commis at Le Gavroche under legendary French maestros Albert and Michel Roux. White interned in the kitchen at the St George Hotel in Harrogate, North Yorkshire and later at the Box Tree in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. He continued his training under Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire, and renowed Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir. He also worked in a string of critically acclaimed eateries before opening his own business: he opened Harvey's in Wandsworth Common, London, in 1987, where he won his first Michelin star almost immediately, and his second a year later.
He later became head chef of The Restaurant Marco Pierre White in the dining room at the former Hyde Park Hotel, where he won the final third Michelin star - without never visited a single starred establishment in France to see how they do it there.
During his career, White was responsible for putting the British culinary scene back on the map. His fiery nature was shown both in behavior (he regularly ejected patrons from his restaurants and renounced the three Michelin stars bestowed upon his self-titled London restaurant) and in bold dishes, but always looking for classic and refined recipes.
There is no doubt that he has changed and shaped the British cuisine: before him, no one talked about food from the British Isle. Considered the best chef of his generation, he is even today dubbed the first celebrity chef of the UK restaurant scene.
But fame also caused him pain. In 1990, White suffered from exhaustion and high blood pressure, leading to a recovery period in France. Nine years later, he handed back his Michelin stars and announced his retirement from the kitchen, becoming a restaurateur - he cooked his final meal for a paying customer on 23 December at the Oak Room. Together with Jimmy Lahoud, he set up White Star Line Ltd, which they operated together for several years before ending their partnership in 2007. Restaurants with his name became franchised brands operated by third parties throughout the UK - and in which White handles menu design and some development.
White is considered one of the first celebrity chef and his fame has increased since he assumed, in 2007, the role on hit TV show Hell's Kitchen. He has also released a number of recipe books - including Wild Food from Land and Sea, the autobiography White Slave, and White Heat, considered by many to be one of the most influential works of gastronomy scene in the world. Now a businessman with a string of restaurants and franchises, White says his time in the kitchen has “been and gone”.