The SMART Interview #19 Marcus Wareing
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The SMART Interview #19 Marcus Wareing

  • TN-MarcusWareing
  • 16 Dec 2014

He’s the Michelin-starred chef who tests the experts’ skills on MasterChef: The Professionals. But there’s only one person who gets 10 out of 10 for a crumble. Find out whose dishes Marcus Wareing really enjoys tucking into.

At Heathrow Express we like to celebrate doing things that bit smarter. Each month we seek out someone who really exemplifies this approach to work and life and we ask them some questions. This month: Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing.

There's a fairly long list of chefs like yourself who start cooking, but end up as authors, TV stars and running businesses. Why is that? Are chefs naturally quite entrepreneurial? 

I would not say they are. You are either born an entrepreneur or not in my eyes. First you become a chef, it takes a certain type of person to want to do all those things, and to be able to do them well, with success. To go onto the next level it really depends on who you work for, who leads you and inspires you.

Can you share any tips for starting and running successful businesses that you've learnt along the way?

Work hard and be patient. I get hugely frustrated by people who want to jump to the top without laying down the right foundations and skills first. If you want to be successful in business you need to have a solid understanding of and experience in your industry. Being patient, putting in the hours and exposing yourself to as much as you can to get a rounded experience is invaluable. Who you surround yourself with is also hugely important. Invest time in your team and as you grow, they will grow with you. Together you can reap the rewards of your combined efforts. Running your business is like running a marathon; be patient, pace yourself, be prepared to go the duration. Slow and steady will win you the race.

How do you come up with new recipes? Do you follow a tried and tested approach?

There is no tried and tested approach in our restaurants. We now have three restaurants within the group, all with distinctly different offerings. Marcus at The Berkeley is two-starred Michelin fine dining; it’s my life’s work so I develop on the foundations I have spent my life building. The Gilbert Scott is an elegant bar and brasserie and our newest restaurant. Tredwell’s is a vibrant West End eatery serving Modern London menus with an emphasis on sharing. So across the group there is a huge amount of creative thought going on and our menus are always evolving. I am lucky to have a hugely talented and creative team working with me. Together we pool our ideas and create some really exciting dishes. We place a huge amount of importance on seasonal fresh produce, so that will always lead the recipe development side of things.

What's currently your most exciting new dish or ingredient and why?

I love autumnal foods. Autumn is one of my favourite times of year and grouse is my favourite. It is the one ingredient that has a set date when you know it will be ready. From soon after the famous 12th August when the grouse shooting season starts, you'll be eating the most amazing bird right through autumn and into December. I love its big, bold flavours and it is brilliant with Bordeaux wine.

Marcus Wareing, Michelin-starred chef
Image: Marcus Wareing, Michelin-starred chef

Apart from your own restaurants, where would you recommend people to eat in London at the moment?

London is truly unique in its food offering.  I love that it is constantly changing with new restaurants opening all the time. I love Dishoom, across the road from our new restaurant Tredwell’s. It's a fantastic Bombay Café which is relaxed, quick and they deliver great flavours with reasonable prices. The Dairy in Clapham is also one of my new favourites. It is one of the best restaurants I have been to in a long time. They give great attention to the produce they use - it is modern thinking with amazing flavours in a very relaxed environment.       

Successful restaurants are about teamwork as well as great food. What’s the best way to motivate people?

You have to lead them by example. Work with your team, mentor them, listen to them. At Marcus Wareing Restaurants we work to ensure that everyone’s voice his heard - no matter what level you are at in the business you know your opinion is valued.

Do you cook at home? If so, what's your favourite home-cooked meal for the family?

Absolutely, I love cooking at home and my wife Jane and I share it and get the kids involved too. I think it is really important to get the whole family involved in cooking and eating at home. It lays down great foundations for healthy eating and it is important for children to understand where their food comes from and how you can use it in cooking. My all-time favourite would have to be my wife’s lasagne but if it was something I was preparing, I would probably say a good seasonal risotto using the freshest ingredients available to maximise the flavours. At home, cooking is fun and we even go as far to judge and score our dishes. This weekend Jane cooked the perfect crumble and the three kids and I all gave her a 10:10!!

Rumour has it that chefs have their own knives and won't use anyone else's. Is that true? Are there particular tools of the trade that you take with you wherever you go?

A good knife is essential in the kitchen and yes it is true that most chefs have their own sets in the kitchen. I will admit that when I go on holiday I take a few Victorinox knives with me.

Your new book 'How to cook the perfect…' is full of tips and techniques to guarantee success in the kitchen. Which is the one most people get wrong and why?

They do not follow the recipe or read it properly. What seems to happen is that people skim read it, then they put themselves into the recipe, get it wrong and blame the recipe!

Marcus Wareing's new book How to Cook the Perfect… is published by DK, priced £20. See for more information.

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