You might know Marco Pierre White from shows like Masterchef or the British Hells Kitchen. He’s the crazy old guy with frizzy hair, semi-posh English accent and crazy intense stare. 25 years ago Marco was it! His two Michelin Star restaurant Harvey’s, was the place to eat, to be seen and the place to cook.
The easiest way to describe Marco to today’s foodie fans is as the original Gordon Ramsay. Easily as fiery, hot tempered, passionate, but even more of a bad boy.
Dubbed the enfant terrible, he revelled in mingling with celebrities and partying… hard.
A young Ramsay, who made his way up under Marco at Harvey’s appears in the book. Famously quoted when asked if the rumours were true that he made Ramsay cry, Marco says,“Gordon had two options: he chose to cry.”
Now we’ve established Marco as a top chef of his time and generally pretty bad ass we can get to the book.
White heat was the first cook book that I saw and immediately had to buy. My first head chef had it at work. I flicked through it once, then on my break I drove to the bookshop. I read it cover to cover and dreamt of cooking with foie gras, morel mushrooms, and whole woodcock with the head sliced in halves so you could scoop out the brains.
White Heat still remains one of the most striking cookbooks published. The photography is by the renowned Bob Carlos Clarke. The book starts with a foreword by Albert Roux and speaks of Marco’s early career under other OG Michelin Star chefs including Pierre Koffmann and Nico Ladenis.
Leading up to the recipes, quotes from Marco give a sense of the swagger and general kitchen badassery that was becoming popular outside the hospitality community for the first time .
As for the food itself, it’s mix of strikingly simple done well – amazing produce, classic cooking techniques with nowhere to hide – countered by dishes with many layers and technically difficult methods. The infamously difficult stuffed pigs trotter à la Pierre Hoffman and the complex noisettes of lamb en crépinette (lamb cutlet layered with chicken mousse, a slice of calf’s brain and wrapped in caul fat before searing, steaming, and topping with black truffle.)
White titles the recipe segment of the book, “The Food of the Gods.” It’s hard to argue.
Most of the recipes are quite involved, designed for restaurant kitchens, made over a few days and plated with trained hands. However there are a couple of achievable ones. My pick is the lemon tart. It’s classic French and the recipe is perfect. Make it. Buy a blowtorch to burn the sugar on top – it’s worth the time and money.
White Heat / Marco Pierre White / 1990
REVIEWED BY HAYDEN ESAU