Quietly, the man who was once the most famous chef on the planet slipped into Sydney, Marco Pierre White. In addition to seeing his daughter who lives there, this first visit was to promote Continental Stock Pot by cooking a dinner for bloggers.
The interesting thing about his trip was that there was no newspaper coverage of the man who at 33 years old – 16 years ago – was the first person outside of France to be awarded three coveted Michelin stars. One newspaper food journalist told me that he was irrelevant and that no newspaper editors would be interested in him, although a few women’s and food mags attended his demonstrations. Jill Dupleix noted during the Sydney Writers’ Festival what a shame it was to see that he sold out.
Meanwhile, in the session between AA Gill and Anthony Bourdain (moderated by Tony Bilson), Bourdain said that “Marco” was the only chef entitled to “icon” status. And that’s coming from a cheerleader for El Bulli’s Ferran Adria.
What it looks like is that Continental had a definite strategy – ignore the mainstream media (apart from one food writer/blogger) and focus only on bloggers, many of whom publish uncritical stories leaving the brand safe from any mainstream media sniping over industrial made stocks.
The funny thing is that so many cooed over Marco (here, here and a quite decent interview here), who probably knew little about him or his significance in the world of restaurants until very recently. They certainly hadn’t ever eaten his food when he was cooking in a Michelin recognised kitchen, which he left in 1999 returning his stars. MPW plucked Mario Batali from being barman to work in the kitchen (only later to storm out), and gave breaks to Gordon Ramsay (who he made cry) and Heston Blumenthal and many local chefs including The Atlantic’s Donovan Cooke in Melbourne.
Way before he became a paid ambassador for Knorr stock cubes (the English version of Continental I guess), he crumbled them over dishes as a more delicate seasoning that salt.
And as Continental tells us in a press release: “Marco Pierre White has used jelly stock in his kitchen for over three years. “Continental Stock Pot does all the work for you and is the closest you’ll get to stock made from scratch – it’s my secret ingredient,” said Marco.
Bourdain is right. MPW is an icon. Dupleix is right; MPW’s sold out.
Am I jealous that I wasn’t there? Shit yeah, especially as I had a commission to interview him.
In the history of modern British cooking, and many top chefs in Australia, MPW is the starting point for everything we see now. Watch out for him on Masterchef, coming soon…
Question: Which Australian chef made Marco Pierre White cry?