Marcus Wareing tells us what inspires him to cook and talks about his new restaurant, The Gilbert Scott.
So, you’re a two Michelin-starred chef with a host of awards and an eponymous restaurant at a super swank Knightsbridge hotel, which is regularly called the best in London, and you’ve just opened a new joint in a landmark building that has been decades in restoration.
Everyone’s angling for a table and dropping by for a cocktail, but you’re not in the kitchen yourself – because you’ve confessed you’re not up to cooking this type of food.
Out of the kitchen
He of the fancy, fussy haute couture cooking, and his latest venture is a railway brasserie serving up classic British fare, not just of the pie and mash variety, but historical and often overlooked treats such as Mushroom on sippets (with red wine sauce and bone marrow), Kentish pigeon in a pot and Mrs Beeton’s snow eggs (Everton toffee, peanuts, burnt honey custard).
But Wareing says that he is not the chef to cook this type of food. He likes eating it, oh yes, but he’s used to 40 or 60 covers per sitting, not several hundred all expecting speed and consistency.
For this reason, he’s happy to leave the cooking at The Gilbert Scott to his able colleagues under the expert eye of his protégé, Chantelle Nicholson, the General Manager.
Impressive chef CV
When he does cook, though, Wareing is nothing short of remarkable. It is well known that he spent many years working with Gordon Ramsay, after starting at The Savoy aged just 18. Then came time with Albert Roux at Le Gavroche.
In 1993, he was appointed sous chef at Ramsay’s Aubergine, and in 1995 the pair opened L’Oranger together.
He arrived at The Berkeley with Pétrus in 2003, the same year the restaurant was awarded five AA rosettes and Wareing was voted the Caterer and Hotelkeeper’s Chef of the Year.
In fights with Gordon
Several years later in 2008, Wareing takes over Pétrus and puts his name above the door, where it still hangs.
The split from Ramsay was acrimonious. Though Wareing had him as best man at his wedding, he later dismissed him as a “celebrity chef...If I never speak to that guy again in my life it wouldn’t bother me one bit.”
London’s most popular chef
Wareing has continued to flourish without his former mentor, but has his eyes set on that elusive third Michelin star which Ramsay has over him. It’s probably the only thing Ramsay does have on Wareing, though. The critics prefer him, for one.
The Sunday Times’ AA Gill, not known for his generous reviews, wrote, “It’s clever, accomplished exemplary cooking…I’ve always thought he’s a much better chef than Gordon.”
The Telegraph’s Zoe Williams was equally impressed. “Excellent…I think this is a genuine, special-occasion, marry-me or at least a birthday-with-a-zero restaurant. It astounds me how rarely in this foodie capital I think that.”
Wareing now has two Michelin stars and has won countless awards, but he understands, as you would expect, that there is a time and a place and an occasion for different sorts of cooking. No one wants a nine-course tasting menu and starched tablecloth environment every night of the week, but they do want decent food and a great experience.
He mentions The Ivy, Le Caprice, Scott’s and The Wolseley as his destination restaurants when he wants not necessarily a note perfect feed, but to know exactly what to expect. He says they are the best restaurants in London because they understand just what the clients want – and that’s success.
It is clear he hopes The Gilbert Scott has the potential to join this roster of legendary eating dens.
Away from the day job, Wareing loves a good roast dinner. His evening meal is his favourite of the day and his kitchen is the same as it is at work – quiet, clean and strict.
Enjoy yourself in the kitchen
As is the order of the time, he recommends eating fresh, seasonal produce and to buy British, but he also encourages lovefood.com readers to be a bit creative with cooking – try something new, experiment a little and enjoy the cooking experience – with a glass of wine in your hand.
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