Five minutes with Marco Pierre White

Chef Marco Pierre White is a culinary legend. Having turned to a vegetarian diet himself, and recognised the growing popularity of flexitarianism, Marco has just launched his first vegetarian cooking course via BBC Maestro – the online cookery course platform.

We caught up with Marco to discuss his thoughts on vegetarianism and what he’s been up to lately…

Five minutes with Marco Pierre White

What’s your very first memory of food?
​Eating figs from a tree with my mother.

What’s the first recipe you properly learned to cook?
It was Marie Rose sauce for a classic prawn cocktail back in 1978.

What’s the one ingredient that you’d take to a desert island with you?
Olive oil.

What’s the meal you’d miss the most whilst there?
A simple bowl of pasta pomodoro (an Italian recipe typically prepared with pasta, olive oil, fresh tomatoes and basil).

You can have a one-off dinner party on your island… who would you invite?
My family.

Which cookbook would you take with you?
It’d have to be Great Chefs of France by Quentin Crewe.

What’s your favourite dish to cook for your family?
It’s usually something Italian, my favourite.

What’s the restaurant (anywhere in the world) you are most looking forward to eating at, when travelling more widely is possible again?
La Colombe D’or in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Provence.

What has been your greatest career highlight so far?
Being invited to address the Oxford Union. It was rather intimidating to walk into a room and know that everyone was more educated than me. It was the greatest achievement of my life, for the simple reason to have left school with no qualifications and for the Oxford Union to be interested in my story. It was quite intimidating, but quite beautiful, and I walked them through the journey of my life.

What are you working on at the moment? Tell us some more…
My garden. I’m enjoying turning it into a nature reserve. My favourite plant is the bulrushes.

What is your approach to meat consumption and the vegetarian and vegan movements?
I think we should have a mostly mixed diet, a little bit of everything. Vegetarian and vegan diets are growing enormously and very rapidly. It’s interesting to see chefs giving more energy to vegetarian options; they are now spending more time creating delicious vegetable dishes than they would have, say twenty years ago. My firm belief has always been – and I cannot emphasise this enough – that I am just the architect, while Mother Nature is the true artist. You can create vegetarian feasts without sacrificing flavour. If you’re curious about reducing the amount of meat you eat, I recommend my course on Delicious Vegetarian Cooking, and to stop thinking of vegetables as only sides.

Stuffed cabbage

What’s your favourite vegetarian dish to cook at the moment?
I have lots of them but I would have to say ratatouille. You can eat it hot; you can eat it cold – it’s very versatile.

The Marco Pierre White: Delicious Vegetarian Cooking course with BBC Maestro is now available for £80 for lieftime access and 25 lessons, including Aubergine Niçoise and Vegetable Lasagne, Baba Ghanoush and Pommes Boulangère.

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