Everyone sitting in the crowd has a serious look on their face for they are about to meet the man who makes chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, cry. The television aura of Marco Pierre White, the British chef, interestingly, doesn’t match his real-life one as he takes the stage dressed in blue denims and a black tee.
Recently, he was in the country for the World on a Plate (WOAP) Festival held in Mumbai over two days at The St Regis Mumbai and High Street Phoenix in Lower Parel.
While driving from the airport to the hotel, he was rather silent. “The city had a deep impact on me — there was sadness, beauty, and an aroma of creative energy. Smell is very important to me. Stuck in traffic, I was mesmerised,” he says.
Marco was in a jovial mood when we met him for an interview, making it clear that he doesn’t ever judge. “I only give my opinion,” he grins, charming us with his stories of winning Michelin stars and returning them because “they were given by people whose knowledge of food was lesser than mine.” While he recently launched his own lager at his restaurant, his poison is tea. “I like Yorkshire black tea with a bit of Earl Grey.”
The master of masters, Marco turns to everybody to learn something new. “I like going to coffee shops where they make sandwiches, simple street food. I like the simplicity of it,” he says, explaining that the story behind a dish is more important than the recipe itself. “Recipes can confuse you. All my mentors told stories. Great chefs respect and accept mother nature. Cooking is a philosophy, not a recipe; unless it’s pastry, which is science!” he quips.
As a judge, Marco is always on the lookout for the generosity of presentation. “The more you do to food, the more you take away from it. Keep it simple. Today, young chefs want to reinvent dishes, while what they should be doing is refine them.”
Sighing off, the 58-year-old chef stresses on the importance of food and emotions. “As a young chef, I sought after knowledge. Today, chefs want to be on television and be stars. Then you can employ them,” he says, answering our last question about the last meal he would opt for: “Two eggs, bread with a slather of butter.”
Wild Mushroom Risotto with White Wine
200 gm risotto rice
200 gm mixed mushrooms
100 gm Parmesan
1 tbsp truffle oil (optional)
Truffle (to taste)
800 ml mushroom stock
20 gm dried porcini
170 ml white wine
1 tbsp soft butter
1 small stem rosemary
1 small onion
To make the mushroom stock, dissolve vegetarian stock in 2 litres of boiling water and add 200 gm of dried porcini.
Wrap a cling film around the pan and leave to infuse for 2 hours.
Wash rice in cold water. Peel and grate onion. Sweat it off in olive oil.
Add minced garlic, then rice. Cook for two minutes and add white wine and reduce.
Gradually add the hot mushroom stock. Cook until everything has evaporated and the rice is cooked. This should take approximately 20 minutes.
Switch off the heat, add rosemary & butter. Grill mushrooms with olive oil and Maldon sea salt.
Season the risotto with parmesan and Maldon salt. Take a hot mains plate and add risotto. Garnish with mushrooms, olive oil, Maldon salt and micro parsley.