He is still one of the most respected chefs in the world, but Marco Pierre White says he doesn’t consider himself a very good cook.
In fact, he thinks he only started cooking because it was part of his family.
However, this modest introduction to the company would launch a 45-year career – Marco becoming the youngest chef to receive three Michelin stars at the age of 32.
Then, barely five years later, in 1999, he announced his retirement from the kitchen to become a restaurateur.
Now Marco – who runs two restaurants in Dublin – insists he’s the happiest he’s ever been since stepping away from the daily grind of cooking at a busy restaurant.
He said: “When I was young I had a dream. But let’s not forget, I was ruled by my insecurities and fears of failure as a child as a young man.
“On reflection in my life, these stars weren’t important to me. They were stepping stones to where I wanted to go in my life.
“Yeah, it was very exciting and I went, and I did what I did, but now I’m a lot happier.
“And maybe if I hadn’t taken that road and viewed them as little stepping stones where I wanted to go, maybe I wouldn’t have discovered my happiness.”
“I discovered my happiness. I am happier than I have ever been in my industry at this point in my life.
Marco may have cooked his last meal for a paying customer in 1999, however, I get to taste his magic in the kitchen as he dons his apron for a Lidl display case.
He said: “I didn’t consider myself to be a good cook. I just love to cook.
“What’s important is that you go to Michelin star restaurants and I can admire their technical ability, but most of the time it’s not food that I want to eat because I like the portions. substantial. “
Marco laughs: “I like a big turkey. I like a big piece of ham. I like a good big piece of steak.
“I don’t want to slip a bit and then I have 14 runs. I don’t have that patience.
Marco recounts how his successful restaurant career was largely down to the fact that food was the family business.
He said: “I wanted to be a river warden, a game warden. I spent my childhood in the countryside. But my father is a chef. My uncle is a cook. My grandfather is a cook.
“Back then, coming from a humble, working-class world, you had to be told to follow in your father’s footsteps. I did as I was told.
Marco knows Irish customers well thanks to his Dublin Steakhouse and Grill on Dawson Street and the Courtyard in Donnybrook.
But his love for Ireland goes back further. Marco remembers his friend Bob Carlos Clarke, a photographer from Cork who always asked for a big serving of potatoes in his restaurant.
He continued: “I first came to a Michelin starred restaurant about ten to twelve years ago in Ireland. Everything was very nice.
“And I had a big portion of potatoes like everyone else next door without even ordering them.” A meal without potatoes is not a meal.
We cook a 36 Day Dry Aged Irish Steak from Lidl. The Rib Eye Angus 10oz is from the Deluxe range and costs € 7.99.
Marco fills the pan with a lot of oil.
He reveals: “You have to be generous with your oil, otherwise you won’t get this caramelization. By the time you get your baking, you’re not going to have that caramelization.
He continues, “The secret is to heat the pan more than you want. The heat loss is enormous, massive. Once you lose that heat, it’s hard to get it back.
As the pan sizzles, Marco advises, “Never panic. It’s like a knife, it will do all the work.
He pulls back and lets the steak fry. He throws table salt on the steak, then pepper.
The oil is washed around the edge of the pan. He recommends a pan with a flat face for cooking a steak.
Marco adds a squeeze of lemon and remove the steak from the heat. It remains smoking in the pan.
He takes a block of butter and rubs it liberally on the steak. As I cut through the meat, I can see the perfectly caramelized coating and the beautifully rare meat inside. The room becomes silent as we devour the delicious steak.
Marco then focuses his attention on preparing for the dreaded Christmas cooking season ahead.
He advises: “You just need to put a little strategy into play. The ham I’m preparing for the Saint-Étienne supper was cooked the day before, or two days in advance. Unless you get it hot.
“It can be eaten cold because at home when I was little we always had this after Christmas – boiled ham and eggs for supper.”
Marco continues: “You can cook your potatoes the night before, not roast them. You can prepare your sweets the day before.
“You can make your braised red cabbage the night before. There are things you can do rather than make it all work on this day. You can prepare your sauce and finish it with the juices.
“The more time you spend on the stove, the more confidence you gain in yourself. The more confident you are, the more you enjoy cooking.