Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
Yes, since the age of 14 – both my father and then my brother were involved with food. My Father was a fruit and vegetable merchant and my brother was a chef and it was something I was always interested in. I used to help my Dad deliver produce to hotels and restaurants and I used to meet some really interesting characters – it was fun and inspiring.
Who have been your biggest culinary influences throughout your career?
Every chef de cuisine I have ever worked with. I chose each and every one of them very carefully, thinking about what I wanted to learn from them, how they could help me grow and teach me new skills. I have always been very ambitious and I would start one job and immediately start planning where I would go next after I had learned all I could. If I was to say one defining moment, it would have been working at Le Gavroche with Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr. They showed me what it was to be the very best and I wanted to go out and achieve that for myself.
You recently completed a makeover of the Berkeley Hotel. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I have been at the Berkeley Hotel for over 10 years now, first as Petrus, then as Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley but the space was never really my own as I inherited it and its interiors. I had been planning for the changes for nearly two years as I wanted to strip it all back and start again, creating a space which properly represented me, my style of cooking, my tastes but also one that provided a chance to start a new chapter and really showcase my food, service and create an environment which was more relaxed and inviting. Over the years, I have seen a gradual but genuine evolution and shift in what the consumer wants in top end dining and with the refurbishment I was able to create a new contemporary dining space which catered to this shift in consumer demand. At Marcus. relaxed formality is the order of the day; there is no stuffiness and imposing staff interrupting you every five minutes. We have created a space which is luxurious, relaxed and delivers the highest quality and standard of food.
Fine dining will always have a place in the restaurant industry, but has lost some momentum in recent years. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s people’s attitude to fine dining which has changed – they don’t want the stuffiness and formalities so commonly associated with it. They want flexibility, comfort, excellent food and service and this can still be delivered at a one, two, three Michelin starred level.
What are five things we will always find in your pantry?
A tin of Heinz Tomato soup, home made muesli, pasta, cream crackers and treats and snacks for the kids – it is a family home first and foremost.
What would Marcus Wareing look like on a plate?
I live for my family, so I’d like to think the kids would have had a lot of input – perhaps some sort of risotto roast dinner concoction.
What are you working on at the moment?
My new project Tredwell’s in Seven Dials which is set to open this September. Located on Upper St Martins Lane, it is a big project: over 5,500 sq. ft, three floors, outside dining, it is hugely exciting – very different to anything we have done before. It is new territory for Marcus Wareing Restaurants as it is our first stand-alone restaurant outside a hotel and it has a very different food and drink offering as well. I can’t say too much as it is all still in development but it is exciting. I am also in the midst of filming Master Chef: The Professionals. It is fantastic working with such a great, talented team where we are finding the next generation of cooking talent.