Marco Pierre White is a chef who started from humble beginnings and at the age of 32 became both the youngest chef and the first British chef to be awarded not one or two but three Michelin stars.
His pursuit of success in the culinary world has taught him many a lesson about life and when he gives talks about his career it isn’t that dissimilar to how artists should pursue theirs.
The journey that every chef traverses through is likened to how an artist should be taking their steps towards a successful career.
And below you’ll find three key points that Marco talks about which allowed him to discover the true meaning of his vocation:
Marco believes that his success was purely borne out of luck. The luck of him getting lost in the streets of London as a teenager and chancing upon the restaurant he wanted to work in; The luck of knocking on the head chef’s door and telling him the truth about how he got to were he is and getting a job in the kitchen; and the luck of working for 6 months at a restaurant for no pay for a chef he admired only to be approached by two of its regular customers who later lend him the money to open up his first own restaurant – Harveys.
Marco says that he always kept aware in his mind when luck presented an opportunity and he took advantage of that opportunity because if he didn’t he wouldn’t have realised his dreams.
He believes that everything in his career was luck by default and that he never planned for it to happen – it just did. And opportunity is about taking advantage of that moment when it arrives and making the most of it.
Young chefs want to prove to the world that they can achieve anything they want.
They have a certain kind of hubris which makes them want to stand out and push towards their goals. Marco says take a step back and don’t overdue it. Go with nature instead and allow things to flow naturally rather than overwork it. Don’t overthink your strategy and you’ll eventually realise your dream.
He goes on to say that we now live in a world of refinement not invention. You can’t really invent but you can refine your cuisine or your craft but you shouldn’t overdue it either, you have to find the balance when aiming for perfection – in other words aim to keep it simple in whatever you create for it should be an extension of you as a person or else it will just be fake.
After striving for excellence in the culinary world, working six day weeks more than 18 hour days for seventeen years, Marco managed to achieve the three star Michelin he sought after. But in spite of his accomplishments, recognition and fame, his career did not provide him with adequate returns in his personal life and he therefore decided to return his Michelin stars in order to spend time with his children and… re-invent himself.
And that is what being a chef, a craftsman is all about. It’s not just the pursuit of success in your field of work but the pursuit of excellence. To excel and to keep going even though you may think you managed to achieve the acclaim or success you’re after, there’s still more out there for you to explore. Marco chose to re-invent himself and that is what every artist out there should aim to do too. By re-inventing yourself you begin to discover other avenues, other paths that you haven’t trodden, haven’t explored yet and this opens up another channel for investigation, ideation and creation.
Marco lives by the three precepts that each chef should adhere to which he distills into three separate sentences that artists should claim and take on board:
1. Chefs have to accept and respect that mother nature is the true artist and that they are just a simple cook;
2. Everything chefs do becomes an extension of them as a person so it’s as if they are channeling what is coming through them into the world;
3. Chefs give you an insight into the world they were born into, the world which inspired them and therefore they should serve that to others
For Marco to reach the level of excellence in the culinary world is to hold true to these precepts and to maintain the integrity to your craft no matter what that may be.