Marco Pierre White

07 May 2008 by
Marco Pierre White

Marco Pierre White recently burst back into the public eye as Gordon Ramsay's successor to host ITV's Hells Kitchen series but the volatile chef and restaurateur forged his place in history more than 20 years ago.

For starters, Marco Pierre White was the first Briton and the youngest chef in the UK to win three Michelin stars.

He also redrew the boundaries of fine dining in the UK during the 1980s, breaking the dominance of French master chefs to inspire a new wave of home-grown talent from Gary Rhodes to John Campbell, who told Caterer in 2002: "He is the catalyst who started what we are doing in Britain today." The roster of chefs who have worked for White have included Gordon Ramsay, Richard Neat, Phil Howard, Stephen Terry and Eric Chavot.

He was the AA Chef of the Decade in 2002, while a 2003 Caterer survey of Michelin-star chefs rated White the second greatest living UK chef (after the Roux brothers) and his White Heat book the most influential cook book.

Marco Pierre White
Born: 1961, Leeds Trained: Hotel St George in Harrogate; Box Tree restaurant in Ilkley, West Yorkshire Current interests" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">White Star Line (Belvedere, Criterion L'Escargot) >>]( [Frankies Italian Bar and Grill >> ]( [The White Room on P&O Ventura >> ]( [Marco at Chelsea Football Ground >> ]( [Luciano >> ]( [The Yew Tree, Newbury >> ]( [Conival food and drink company >> ]( [Books and cookware >>](

After gaining early experience in a Harrogate hotel and West Yorkshire's Box Tree restaurant, the Leeds-born chef arrived in London aged 16 to train under some of the top players of the time, including Albert Roux, Pierre Koffmann, Nico Ladenis and Raymond Blanc (in Oxfordshire).

White made his name after launching Harvey's in Wandsworth, London, in 1986 which scooped its second Michelin star in 1988. He gained a third Michelin star in 1995, three years after closing Harvey's (which became Chez Bruce) and establishing Restaurant Marco Pierre White in the Forte Hyde Park hotel (now the Mandarin Oriental).

When the Hyde Park was sold, he moved his restaurant to the Le Meridien Piccadilly hotel in 1996, renaming it the Oak Room and continuing to cook until December 1999 when he controversially "returned" his three Michelin stars and hung up his whites to focus on his growing restaurant empire.

This included leading London venues such as Titanic and the Michelin-starred Canteen (co-owned with actor Michael Caine). Sugar Reef, Red Cube, Maison Novelli, Chez Max and Wheeler's of St James are other leading eateries that White has been involved with.

His most enduring partnerships have been with Jimmy Lahoud (with whom he set up White Star Line in 1999), hotelier Sir Rocco Forte and, more recently, Italian jockey Frankie Dettori, with whom he co-owns the grill chain of Frankie's Italian Bar and Grill.

White Star Line still owns the Belvedere, Criterion, and L'Escargot fine-dining restaurants, having sold Drones, Mirabelle and Quo Vadis in 2007.

After setting up a series of Marco Pierre White Brasseries for Forte hotel's new owner, Granada, White opened two restaurants for Rocco Forte Hotels in Manchester and Cardiff, followed in 2005 by a new London restaurant in St James, Luciano, a joint venture with Sir Rocco Forte.

Frankie's Italian Bar and Grill has already spread beyond its four London venues to Dubai and China, with branches soon set to open on the Isle of Man and Jersey.

White's burgeoning empire also includes Marco at Chelsea FC, the Yew Tree inn at Newbury, the White Room on the P&O cruiser Ventura, the branded food and drink company Conival, and a branded cookware line.

He is also lined up to star in a new US reality-TV show, [The Chopping Block.

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