Here is Marco Pierre White, in an iconic black and white picture taken in the late 80s, before I started cooking. He was an early influence on me, not because I particularly appreciated his cooking, but because he was initially famous amongst chefs for walking out of catering college when they attempted to force him to learn how to use a stock cube. Back in those days, stock cubes were not good enough for Marco. He wanted to learn how to cook, and went from this rebellion to becoming the most well regarded chef in the UK in a remarkably short time.
He was also well known amongst chefs for his hatred of women in the kitchen, as he had decided that it was a brutal job. Some chefs like to play this game, humiliating people into learning tasks quickly to avoid either crying or being fired. I have worked in these types of kitchen, in addition to the more serious, religious style of leadership, and I have to say when I ran my own kitchen, the rough-and-tumble style of leadership was something I grew out of very quickly. It is tiresome having to replace weeping chefs on a frequent basis, so you might as well give them some time and space to make errors. Errors are not only instructive for the chef, they sometimes result in more interesting results.
The third piece of information that I got first hand from people that worked with him, was that he was fond of employing young male Scottish chefs, as they would be unable to pay the trainfare home until they had been forced to work for him for two weeks or more, so he could behave as badly as he wanted to. He liked to keep the meat in the garden after delivery, so that it was well rested, and presumably weathered by the time it got to your very expensive plate. One of my favourite recipes of his, was his water vinegarette, which was one of those confidence tricks that you pull at the top end of the catering trade. If you develop sufficient panache, you can eventually pull off presenting an almost empty plate, a good lesson to learn for your future creative exploits.
This is a more recent picture of Marco Pierre White, who is now famous for advertising stock cubes. He apparently believes that everyone, like the fawning media, has forgotten his initial claim to fame. The Dorian Gray picture to absorb his having sold his soul for money has apparently been lost. Perhaps his son sold it to pay his bills. As you can see, he is not a happy man, but he is reasonably well off. This is not a good advertisement for giving your life up entirely to your dreams, and it is not a good advertisement for years of creating top end dishes. He is only 8 years older than me, and I can honestly say he could easily be confused as being my father, the difference is so marked.
This is a picture of Marco Pierre White Jnr, whose current ambition is to create Marco Pierre White III, as he can think of no other way of pleasing his unhappy father. He has no idea how to please him, because his father has spent all these years chasing glory at the expense of loving his son, who has recently been suckered into a TV appearance, to pay off bills that he ran up running wild as a result of his exhausted father taking his credit and debit cards away. He does not have to work at anything, he is under pressure to maintain the family name, and he has absolutely no idea how to do it. He speaks in a breathy, Marilyn Monroe voice and attempts to please others by filling in the silent gaps with tales of boyish glory as he has no idea how to command respect or earn any genuine admiration from others. What this young man needs, is a father who does not obsess about his own need for admiration, and who is willing to spend some time giving him some self worth.
What he does not need, is publicity whilst he grows out of doing the sort of stupid things chefs do in their time off because they have extremely limited time to come up with a good story to bring back to work.
Raymond Blanc did it, David Dempsey, Gordon Ramsay’s late chef, did it, hundreds of talented chefs have destroyed their own lives doing it. Relieving stress by performing the sort of stupid male stunt that only other men even smirk at as they go about their long and sweaty day, is not particularly smart.
Working people 80-140 hours a week is also not smart, because as someone who has actually done it, despite the misogynistic views of people like Marco Pierre White, I can tell you that you completely forget how to function as a whole person. It takes years to get a sense of perspective back into your life.
People are not machines, and Marco the father needs to drop everything to give Marco the son the time and reassurance he clearly needs to grow into a whole person. Right now he is confused, worthless, and will not live long without some actual love from his father.
Discipline is not always the answer, but in this case, spending some time on a small island with no facilities would do the pair of them the world of good, because the evidence suggests that neither of them retain any connection with reality, and their tiny place in it.