Marco Pierre White

Herald Sun - Switched On - - ON THE COUCH - COLIN VICK­ERY TV WRITER

A trip to Australia is be­com­ing an an­nual event for Marco Pierre White. The famed Bri­tish chef, au­thor and restau­ra­teur is back in the coun­try to guest on MasterChef Australia, in which he will be re­united with for­mer em­ploy­ees Shan­non Bennett and Curtis Stone.

What is the most com­mon mis­take the contestants on MasterChef Australia make? At the start of the com­pe­ti­tion, peo­ple tend to over-work and over-com­pli­cate things. They want to im­press. What I try to teach them is to be a strate­gist. They have got to look at the chal­lenge at hand — just com­pose them­selves and de­liver. They don’t have to cook ex­trav­a­gant dishes (early on). You see in MasterChef that the best cook can go home early be­cause he or she tries too hard.

A lot of peo­ple were sur­prised when you re­tired from cooking in 1999 — just af­ter win­ning three Miche­lin stars. Win­ning three stars was an ex­cit­ing jour­ney. Re­tain­ing them is bor­ing be­cause it be­comes about de­liv­er­ing ev­ery day those spe­cial­ties you be­come fa­mous for. You can’t be cre­ative any more.

Do you re­gret that de­ci­sion? No. Cooking is a young man’s game. What do I like to do? For 22 years of my life I was in the kitchen six and seven days a week re­al­is­ing my dream. To­day I like to cook at home. I’ve eaten and worked at so many restau­rants in my life. Now I crave a bit of or­di­nary.

In this year’s MasterChef you are re­united with for­mer em­ploy­ees Shan­non Bennett and Curtis Stone. You must be proud of their achieve­ments. Their suc­cess is all theirs. The re­al­ity is, it’s a two-way street. They as­sisted me in me re­al­is­ing my dreams and I as­sisted them in them re­al­is­ing their dreams. They grafted very hard to de­liver a stan­dard to re­alise my vi­sion. In re­turn they got knowl­edge which as­sisted them in pro­gress­ing to where they are to­day.

Back then, did they stand out to you as be­ing guys who would achieve so much? They have gone down two very dif­fer­ent roads but both lead­ing to suc­cess. I re­mem­ber Shan­non com­ing to see me and I lis­tened to him and I was bru­tally hon­est with him. I said ‘Shan­non, you don’t have the knowl­edge that is re­quired’. ‘What is the point of giv­ing a young man a job who might have the big­gest heart in the world but is go­ing to mess up’. I said ‘come back to me in a year’s time’. A year to the day, Shan­non knocked on my door. It proved to me that he was com­mit­ted. Curtis started in the com­pany and el­e­vated him­self to head chef at Quo Vadis. That was a step­ping stone in his ca­reer. The rest is his­tory.


Marco Pierre White just wants an or­di­nary life.

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