Yorkshire-born Marco Pierre White’s journey to success has been nothing short of dramatic. Having left high school with no qualifications, his journey began in 1970 when his father gave him 50 pence (around Dh3) to catch a bus to Harrogate and find a job. He was told to knock on kitchen doors to ask for work and he eventually landed a role as a kitchen apprentice at Hotel St George. Fast-forward to today and Marco is a much-loved chef and restaurateur. He’s also the youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars – and the first to hand them back. Amid news that he’s set to be the subject of a film by Ridley Scott, Marco flew to Dubai to launch his new book, Essentially Marco, which is brimming with fuss-free, crowd-pleasing dishes.
What’s your idea of comfort food?
It has to be warm, such as a bowl of pasta or a stew, so I can dunk some bread and butter in and mop up the juices.
These days it’s often the man in a family that has a keener interest in cooking. Why?
Mums are busy with the kids and their careers. I think men are much more confident on a stove now. It comes from the barbecue era of men taking charge of the cooking outdoors. They’ve effectively just brought the barbecue indoors.
When it comes to flavours and ingredients, what’s your favourite country?
England, France and Italy! If I really had to choose a favourite, however, it would have to be Italy. My mother is Italian, born in the beautiful lakeside town of Bardolino, Lake Garda.
What foods do you always have at home?
I’m not always there so it depends on who’s coming to dinner. I have a farm and an allotment at home, so livestock, fruits and vegetables are always on hand.
What do you never have?
Frozen foods. I don’t have a freezer at home and, if I want ice, I go to the shops and buy it.
If you could only use one herb for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Parsley – flat, of course.
And what about a protein source?
Turbot. Actually no, I’ve changed my mind – eggs. They’re so versatile.
Are you a fan of Arabic cuisine?
Yes, I really am. I like the sharing concept as it’s very much like the Italian way of eating with everyone helping themselves. I tried a shawarma and liked it very much.
What makes your new book stand out?
It removes all the complications of cooking, with a focus on comfort food favourites and restaurant classics. It’s similar to the Arabic way of dining, where you share what’s on the table.
Any advice for budding cooks?
Ultimately, when it comes to food, my advice is to keep it simple and straightforward. I crave the ordinary and that’s why I have written this book.
Essentially Marco, Dh165, is available at all major bookstores and from www.booksarabia.com.