Lisa Lund, Commercial Director at Hi-Life, recently caught up with Marco Pierre White for an insightful Q&A session.
Marco, what was the exact turning point in your life that drove you to become so successful?
I don’t regard myself as successful, just because I’ve won awards doesn’t mean you’re successful. True success is self discovery, every experience in my life has contributed to who I am today, and many individuals have contributed. Success isn’t materialism.
Who was the biggest inspiration in your career and why?
I could never say one individual was my greatest inspiration. I was very privileged to work with Albert Roux, Raymond Blanc, Pierre Koffmann, and the Box Tree Boys. If I was to say there was one person, it would be my mother. All my inspiration and love came from her and my mum was the driving force and council all my life.
If you could choose your last meal on earth what would it be?
I begin to look mortality in the eye as I am 50 this year, food becomes irrelevant. It’s the people you surround yourself with, which would be my family.
If you were to cook dinner for 6 people who would they be?
I cannot think of anything worse, sounds like a nightmare cooking for 6 people. What I will say is that I would choose to be with my family and friends.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Time spent with my mother.
What is your favourite meal you like cooking at home?
Something really simple, I don’t like fuss, something like toast or a sandwich or a cup of tea.
If you could give an aspiring chef some advice what would it be?
Keep your head down
And lastly work hard and put your career in the hands of a person who will look after, inspire and pass you on to another safe pair of hands.
I saw the golden age of gastronomy where people went to work to earn their craft. I didn’t step out to be a celebrity, I want to encourage people to come into the industry, by discovering a man’s strength you respect their weaknesses.
What was your motivation for creating Wheeler’s Country Inns?
I’ve been a great admirer of the Walsh family. Bernard Walsh, originally from Whitstable in Kent and an oysterman, was the founder and together with his daughter Carol it continued to grow. One day he sold it to a large organisation and at the end of its life it was dying. I obtained the brand name as it was an institution and its place is in the countryside not in London. I’m just about to do two more. It’s the oldest fish brand in the world, founded in 1856. I am traditional and old fashioned in my ways like the brand.
You are the face of some leading industry brands, what is your secret that has kept you firmly in the public eye for 25 years?
Most of my reputation is a product of exaggeration and ignorance, to survive 25 years and for the media still having interest in me, it is born out of integrity and standing up and fighting for what I believe, never trying to be controversial. There is foundation behind my statements and I have refused to allow my industry to pigeon hole me. I have refused to be part of any organisation to suppress me. I learned as a young boy, big fish never shoal. I don’t look at myself as being a big fish, I am someone who stays out of the public eye and prefers to swim in the deep side of society. I like to be with my friends and family unless I am supporting a charity I believe strongly in. By not being seen in public or part of any organisation and quietly getting on with my work, I have seen people come and go. Five minutes of fame and they disappear. I lead by example and lead from the front and am very protected by people who work for me.