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Marco Pierre White Expands His Empire

The noted chef and author is snagging prime real estate at the top of a hotel

Marco Pierre White Facebook

Living legend and original enfant terrible British chef Marco Pierre White has been on an expansion streak for the past several years. His newest project, according to Cornwall Live, is another steakhouse: Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Bar & Grill in Plymouth, UK, about four hours southwest of London.

There are 16 other locations of White’s Steakhouse, Bar & Grill concept in cities throughout Great Britain, including Birmingham, Oxford, Glasgow, and Liverpool. The menu at each location is more or less the same: The restaurant specializes in dry-aged steaks served with french fries and a green salad with Merlot dressing. Fish and chips, pasta dishes, and European classics like chicken Kiev are also on offer.

The new location will seat 160 diners and live on the top floor of Plymouth’s forthcoming Crowne Plaza Hotel (currently a Holiday Inn which is undergoing renovations). The restaurant will open this March.

White is, in some circles, better known for his seminal cookbook, White Heat, originally published in 1990. In the 25th anniversary publication of the book, fellow raconteur Anthony Bourdain writes in the foreword of how he first came to admire White. For Bourdain and his contemporaries slogging away in hot, cramped NYC kitchens of the late ‘90s, here at last was the antithesis of the smug, pudgy, old French chef:

Marco, unlike any chef we’d ever seen, in any cookbook ever, looked stressed. It was carved into his face... With White Heat, Marco Pierre White gave us all a voice, gave us hope, a new template for survival. We were no longer alone in the world, a despised, underpaid minority, reeking of garlic and salmon. Soon, people would become interested in us. Our customers would actually be curious about our opinions on what they should eat. Eventually, they would want to fuck us – and brag about it to their friends.

This book gave us power.

It all started here.

White is the first British chef to have earned three Michelin stars — at the age of 33. He is sometimes called the first celebrity chef; today he often appears on cooking competition shows like MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen as a judge. Mario Batali, Gordon Ramsay, and Curtis Stone all trained under him, and regard him as a sort of godfather of farm-to-table, straightforward, chiefly British cooking.

Some say White, 55, who has shilled for Knorr sauce packets, has sold out. But White announced in 1999 that he was retiring from working as a chef, and since then has embarked upon a career as a restaurateur. He’s not been shy about pursuing partnerships or franchise deals; White has been slapping his name on restaurant concepts left and right. This jibes with what he wrote in White Heat nearly 17 years ago:

Any chef who says he does it for love is a liar. At the end of the day it’s all about money. I never thought I would ever think like that but I do now. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t enjoy having to kill myself six days a week to pay the bank...If you’ve got no money you can’t do anything; you’re a prisoner of society. At the end of the day it’s just another job. It’s all sweat and toil and dirt: it’s misery.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Bar & Grill is a sort of franchise operation in which White handles menu design and development but is otherwise mostly hands off. The new location in Plymouth is part of an arrangement with Black & White Hospitality Ltd, which owns other restaurant concepts with White’s name on them, including Marco's New York Italian by Marco Pierre White. White is a partner in the venture.

Marco Pierre White to Open Plymouth Restaurant This Year [Cornwall Live]
Marco Pierre White Is Now Shilling For Knorr in the US [E]
Read Anthony Bourdain's Tribute to White Heat [E]

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