Sunday, October 24, 2004

Marco on Gordon

Marco Pierre White has had a go at absentee chefs: But when a Michelin-starred chef portrays himself as working hard in the kitchen that's where he should be and nowhere else.

You are paying £150-£200 per head in a restaurant that bears the name of a two or three-starred Michelin chef, if that man is not there, aren't you being conned?

The less than honest motivations for this are
1 - he has just opened a new restaurant
2 - there is a bit of enmity between Marco and Gordon Ramsay. The latter was taught by the former at Harvey's. Ramsay has in the past criticised other chefs for being absent and his rise to stardom has caused a few ripples among the super-egos of Michelin level cooking.
3 - Marco himself had more than one top restaurant on the go simultaneously (before he retired) so he must by definition have been absent some of the time.

Marco resigned his 3 Michelin stars when he retired and he expects others to follow his example: Have the courage to give back your stars. If a chef is doing television shows in America [Gordon Ramsay], who is running his restaurant? He's not there is he? You are paying for his expertise.

I party agree with Marco, but at the end of the day, unless you are celebrity spotting, all that matters is the quality of the eating experience. If the food is amazing, I don't care who cooked it. It doesn't particularly excite me that Ramsay had his fingers all over my food because I know that anything he puts his name to will be of top quality. His eponymous restaurant is run by head chef Mark Askew. Indeed, Ramsay's delegation of senior roles to his staff (Hartnett, Wareing, Sargeant) has set the base for further development of British cuisine, in much the same way that Marco trained cooks run kitchens all over the country.

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