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Marco Pierre White Interview Exclusive

We were recently invited for a press conference to meet Chef enfant terrible at the preview of his new MPW Steakhouse Restaurant at the innovative and aspirational Cube in Birmingham – A relaxed Marco chatted to us, and shared his ethos and passions. Here are  his responses…

Marco Pierre White with James Day, Editor of ETM, at the Cube, Birmingham

Marco Pierre White with James Day, Editor of ETM, at the Cube, Birmingham

Marco – Welcome to Birmingham – What are your first impressions of the City, and why choose Birmingham?

I have never sought opportunism, I actually say no to more things than I say yes to, and very few things fire my imagination. I came to Birmingham 25 years ago, and it did nt excite me. Then 5 years ago I came for a book signing in Selfridges, and had a look at the Mail Box, and it was Cosmopolitan, and even European, and I liked it – Birmingham are opening their arms to the likes of Jamie and myself, and others will follow. Looking down from the wonderful Cube building, Birmingham appears like a mosaic or jigsaw, with the old and the new mixed beautifully – the canals, and cobbles and chimneys, all mixed with the new buildings and restaurants – it reminds me of Leeds when I grew up, and how it has developed now – I like it – its amazing what your City has achieved. I tried to create something that the people of Birmingham can access and enjoy for a price point they can pay, and with their friends and family. That is important to me.

“The most important aspect of any restaurant is the environment, and to have fun”

There is a real trend in Steak Houses in the UK, including Birmingham – Why have you chosen such a theme for MPW Steakhouse Birmingham?
I used to go to a restaurant in Leeds with my Father called ‘Johnny the Greeks’ it was always popular and people enjoyed it – it was relaxed and fun – it is important to ensure what ever you are charging a customer is evident on the plate, and they are getting value – people will always dig a little deeper for a good steak , even in such challenging times.

What would be your own choice of meal for comfort and relaxation?

I like simple food, good quality ingredients, cooked well, and served simply, and not too messed with – I have done my messing with food! Now I prefer simplicity such as grilled Dover sole, grilled pork chops, a joint of ham, or well cooked bacon – Or roast beef served with perfect Yorkshire puddings – something we will be offering on Sundays at MPW Birmingham.

What is your ethos for a good restaurant?
There are no guarantees in restaurateuring– Many of my friends have opened some great restaurants and had to close them. All I can say, is, try your best, stay honest and do what you believe….Respect good quality ingredients, ensure the environment and service are warm and welcoming, and don’t let your accountant manage it!

Your new menus at MPW Steakhouse is simple, and almost anti-fancy. You famously handed back your Stars to Michelin – why did you do this?
When I grew up in Leeds I worked in various hotels, but heard about one called the Box Tree Restaurant in Ilkley, West Yorkshire – At the time it was considered one of the best restaurants in the UK – I wanted to be the best, so I had to work at the best – whilst there I learnt that there were better – it was possible to achieve 3 Stars and 5 comfort knives and forks – so I packed off to London with some cook books and a few pounds in my pocket, and began working with some of the finest chefs in the UK – eventually winning my own stars and all the accreditation’s I ever dreamt of – but had lost my identity, friends and focus what was important in life – long hours and days the kitchens had turned me into a bit of a monster, unhappy and lost. I had three options – carry on and burn out – live a lie and not cook in the kitchens my name was over, or end on high and hand them back – so I chose the latter and left the industry for a few years – I had no mother as she had died when I was 7, so I focused on Mother nature, the countryside, fishing, shooting and re-connecting with myself and my friends.

And now you are back?
Yes, I returned to London refreshed re-focused and with a new ethos, focusing on good ingredients, cooked simply and offering good, honest food, at an accessible price point – whilst having fun.

Finally some of our Gourmet Life Dining Club members have asked a question with Christmas coming fast. ‘Your sponsorship of of the late Bernard Mathews turkeys,is well documented, and wondered what are your tips for the perfect turkey?
Interested in Marco Pierre Whites tips for the perfect turkey? Register here for our FREE dining club newsletter in time for Christmas and you could win a signed copy of Marco’s new ‘Marco Made Easy’ Cook Book!

Marco Pierre Whites Steakhouse is due to open on December 1st – now taking bookings with spaces from December 16th at time of press. For more info and menus visit the Cube MPW Steakhouse Restaurant Website for more information.

The Cube Birmingham - MPW Steakhouse at the top!

The Cube Birmingham - MPW Steakhouse at the top!

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