Sept 16, 2019

The Great White Shark

If celebrity Chef Marco Pierre White wasn't a chef what would he have been? It's not everyday that he visits India for a Masterclass. So there was no way we wouldn't get talking to him

Words: Shourya Jain

Why ARE humility and modesty important? Why is being proud generally equated to arrogance? Why not boast about your recent promotion or yell from the top of a building about the swanky car you just bought for yourself? Why must people always talk about their "humble beginnings"?

I sat at my desk, thinking about all this and more, procrastinating and almost turning my own beginnings humble, which they really aren't. I was buried in a myriad of inexhaustible thoughts when my colleague called out to me and said, “One of the biggest celebrity chefs of the world is coming to India and you have to interview him.” I responded with a humble nod. Hasn't it been conditioned into our heads to remain calm and not be excited? Especially about the good things in life? Why then must I feel proud to be interviewing one of the top chefs of the world, right?

Our editor, Aninda, is a bit of a maverick though and thinks differently. “You’re interviewing the Marco Pierre!?” he exclaimed from halfway across the office as I settled down to research about the legend. Chef Marco has starred in various reality shows like MasterChef Australia and Hell’s Kitchen. Curt, self-proclamatory, blunt or rude is how we have come to know him but could there be a different Marco?

Well, not really. When somebody at the 'World on a Plate' culinary festival at The Ritz Carlton, Bangalore, where Marco was a guest, asked him how he finds the will to open yet another restaurant in London, while several are shutting down daily, he said, “I don’t think like that. See, remember, I don’t care what other people do; I only care about what we do. All my focus goes into us and no one else.” That's Marco for you. A man who knows his worth and isn't willing to tell the world that he knows. Even if that means sounding utterly arrogant.

Quite frankly, modesty in one’s mannerisms should be completely an individual decision. If you want to keep things straight and not indulge in exchange of decorative pleasantries it should be okay. But, is it? I was curious to know what would make someone give up a star rating of paramount importance. “Winning three stars (Michelin) is without question the most exciting journey in a young chef’s life. Retaining them is the most boring job in the world. I did not agree with being judged by people who have lesser knowledge than me. And now, at this stage of my life, I don’t need them and they don’t need me.” Again. Straight to the point while making absolute sense. Achievements and the sense of accomplishment do bring along change with changes in life's stages. What happens when you become bigger than the achievement itself? Still be humble to make people like you better?

Somebody asked him if he liked the slow cooking trend. “I like slow cooking, I like it a lot, but you have to use the right parts of meat. Like the cheek of beef, the gully pork, the shin of beef, the neck of beef, the collar of a pig, the shoulder of a lamb; delicious! And let’s not forget, chicken leg has no flavour; it’s the breast (that has the most flavour).” Look how he talks about his work. To say that he knows his game really well would be an understatement! Why must he bother about politeness when he’ll still have earned his bread (no pun intended, really!) at the end of the day with or without it?

Worldly idiosyncrasies often make the most basic things complex. To quote the man himself, Marco Pierre White would have been a river keeper to earn a living, for all he cared. That’s how simple and straightforward he is. To him, a spade is nothing but a spade.

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