Marco: the Making of Marco Pierre White,Sharpest Chef in History

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9780091868192: Marco: the Making of Marco Pierre White,Sharpest Chef in History

Marco was born of working-class parents on a bleak council estate in Leeds, and his Italian mother died when he was six years old. Today he has become a star chef of international renown, a controversial media celebrity, a national icon of the 1980s and 1990s, and a multimillionaire entrepreneur - all before the age of 40. How has this staggering rise to fame and fortune been achieved? MPW (as he calls himself and many of his new restaurants) is today widely regarded as the best cook in the country, but his astonishing talents and understanding of food are only part of the explanation. As this fascinating book reveals, there are many sides to this complex man which the massive media coverage he has received over the years have never revealed. Charles Hennessy tells the story with insight: the unpromising early life, his first job as a kitchen porter in Harrogate, the epiphany at the age of 17 when he went to work at the Box Tree restaurant in Ilkley, his arrival in London, learning under the Roux brothers, Pierre Koffmann and Raymond Blanc, and the opening of his own first restaurant, Harvey's from whence his fame and fortune grew.

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Review:

At the age of around 40, is Marco Pierre White ready for a biography? Charles Hennessy evidently thinks so, and so presumably does White himself. Those 40 years have been dense with achievement; moreover, since White has apparently announced his intention of giving up cooking in favour of managing his business interests, on the not implausible grounds that he has nothing left to achieve, perhaps the threshold of middle age is a suitably pivotal moment for a summing up.

White's is the kind of exemplary career afforded only to a few exceptionally gifted, driven individuals: "geniuses", if you like. In Charles Hennessy's Marco the engine propelling this startling narrative is a childhood striking in its archetypes. The brooding child from a housing estate on the fringes of Leeds, out poaching with his dogs and ferrets; the beautiful, gifted Italian mother dying inexplicably young; the belligerent father (who could "start a fight in an empty room") betraying her memory by bringing into the household a hated stepmother; the penniless youth in London chancing upon his mentors the Roux brothers; the subsequent astonishing trajectory and the portfolio of remarkable, sometimes great, restaurants--this is myth or folktale. Charles Hennessy has done a brisk, some might say hasty, job of telling this potent story, his chosen style producing on occasion bizarre effects ("In the unlikely purlieus of Ilkley, he had worshipped at the altar of French haute cuisine, but the services had been conducted by mere acolytes"). One might ask whether learning what one needs to know about Marco Pierre White is best achieved by reading his biography or by visiting his restaurants and eating his food, but those who opt for the former will find it here. --Robin Davidson

Book Description:

The first and only authorised biography of the world famous chef and self made millionaire.

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