4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In the introduction MPW is reminiscing about a cooking demonstration he was going to do to a group of wealthy women. He says; `These dishes had to be quite effortless and ones the ladies could easily cook at home, so this is what I decided to serve; grilled lobster with parsley and chervil and a béarnaise mousseline; turbot with citrus fruits, a little coriander and some fennel; then sea bass a la nicoise.' I'm guessing that this is unintentional humour?! Cook easily at home, you say?? Mind you, I have trouble with scrambled eggs, so perhaps I'm not the best judge!
This book is absolutely incredible and compulsive reading. MPW talks about; his early life and the loss of his mother; how he started as a chef; his determination and drive to get three Michelin stars; his battle to win a libel case against two American newspapers and, perhaps best of all, some examples of his amazing temper. I was almost spellbound as I read about the time he held the owner of a mink coat to ransom; what he did with Albert Roux and a pig's trotter; and what he got up to in his office at Harveys.
There are times when he does show us a slightly softer and more sensitive side and who could argue with his ethos that, `no man can choose what he is born into, but every man can choose to better himself.' This man really is an inspiration, but that said, whilst reading about him was great....I'd be a little reluctant to work for him!
48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
For some reason I ignored this book when it first came out in hardback. Not sure why. Perhaps Marco Pierre White was a name from the past and someone I knew very little about . . . except perhaps that he was rude, abusive and violent in the kitchen. How's that for prejudging someone?
Don't make my mistake, this book is not to be missed. From the time I opened it at the first page until I had finished I couldn't put it down. It is well written and a fascinating account of a chef's life, albeit a pretty unique chef.
Someone who has won three Michelin stars, and is the youngest chef at the age of thirty-three to have ever achieved it, has to be a very unique person. The first British Chef to win three Michelin stars.
The start of the book takes you back to when Marco was just six years old and facing up to life after his mother's death, growing up in the male dominated world of his father and two older brothers. It then moves quickly through his formative years in Leeds, not particularly happy years, where his greatest pleasure was been able to escape fishing.
The heart of the book is of course the time at Harveys which culminates in his winning his second Michelin star before moving to open Restaurant Marco Pierre White at the Hyde Park Hotel in Knightsbridge where he wins his third Michelin star.
There is a lot more to the book than I have described. Even if you are not into cooking it is a great insight into the professional kitchen with its stress and anguish. It might also help you to understand what makes the greatest living British chef tick. Remember when he started on the road to becoming a chef he was not passionate about cooking it was just a job . . . he grew to be passionate.
The book is full of stories of the high jinx that went on in the kitchens and the restaurant. From a restaurant designer getting his Gucci suit ripped apart to a chef having his whites cut up because he complained it was too hot in the kitchen . . . he was still wearing them at the time!
And if I have not convinced you that The Devil in the Kitchen is worth reading then let me say it is worth reading just for the laugh you will get from the story about Raymond Blanc and the pig's trotter!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2007
By the end of this book, Marco is neither a devil nor in the kitchen, but you do understand why he once was both. Undeniably a difficult character, the autobiography goes some way to explaining the drive and motivations behind the man and I did wonder if a couple of therapy sessions had added to some of the more reflective and self-analytical passages. On the other hand, selective amnesia is often also in evidence especially when concerning business or personal relationships, although he does resist having a malicious swipe at those involved, perhaps an acknowledgment of his part in the downfalls. There is no doubt he inspired and changed a generation of chefs and drove himself to the edge of physical and mental breakdown in trying to achieve a perfection that would bring some sense of inner satisfaction, but you are left in no doubt that the person he wanted to please most of all died when he was too young to impress her. The ghost of Marco's mother is a constant presence in his life, and as he recounts the ups and downs of his career you feel that inner peace is something that he's always struggled and is still struggling to find. As an autobiography, this is quite a revealing and straightforward book but also entertaining and especially evocative of Eighties London. Recommended.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Marco Pierre White put chefs on the map without meaning to. His reputation whilst at Harveys in the 80s filled many a column inch in the London and National Press and yet refrreshingly, he wasn't courting fame, he simply wanted to feed people the best food they could possibly imagine. Before reading this book I had heard of his fearsome reputation, his genius, and his regular appearances in gossip columns (again, not something he courts). When you understand from the early chapters of this book that this is the story of a boy who lost his mother at age six, then you begin to understand the man behind the myth. To say he was passionate and driven would be to understate the case dramatically. He was a loner, being motherless, and later, estranged from his father. Food was everything to the point where he barely had time to eat it any more, let alone sleep or have a life away from the kitchen. Its a gripping story with cameos from various famous faces and a fascinating historical snapshot of London in the Eighties. Its a story of how hard work maketh the man, a story sadly seen all too rarely amongst today's fame hungry consumerism.
Marco himself remains a likebale enigma. He has been rude, unpleasant, violent even, and has the decency to admit it and explain why without offering excuses for his past mistakes. He appears awkward with women, understandably so since he wasn't brought up around them, and spent his adolescence in front of a hot stove. He is almost pathologically sensitive and proclaims his affection for a friend in one chapter before stating in the next "we havemn't spoken since". This has happened to just about every mentor and friend he has comes across and perhaps reveals a fear of getting close to anyone in case they leave as his mother did. Or maybe he's just picky, who knows? Its a shame though, as he appears to inspire great and deep affection in those who know him.
Its hardly surprising that having been the youngest and first British chef to acheive three Michelin stars, he hung up his apron in 1999 whilst still in his thirties. He is now married with a total of four children and more of a businessman than a chef today. However, if you saw him in Hell's Kitchen earlier in 2006, you will see, as I did that there is an unmistakable charisma there and a code of honour and respect that is positively Sicilian.
I will also mention that this is edited (or ghostwritten) but I sense that this could be because Marco is dyslexic and has never switched on a computer in his life. His turn of phrase, from the humourous to the downright poetic, is unmistakeable and his vibrant rumbling tone, with just a soupcon of Leeds, is heard loud and clear throughout. As you can probably guess, this book made a huge impact on me and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, regardless of their usual reading preferences. I am sure you, like me, will agree that this motherless boy deserves his happily ever after with his wife and family.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2008
I started reading sitting in the garden at midday in the sun. Time stopped still as I was lost in this mad world of Chef White. I read until I finished the book. I got sunburn, forgot to make the kids tea, my tomato plants wilted and the agony of an ear infection disappeared.
This is a story that will stay on my book shelves forever. It is one of those all too rare books that suck you in and make you grieve when you finish.
What a story, what a guy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I have only ever read three other autobiographies and that was enough to put me off the genre for good. However I picked this one up because Marco lived on the same estate as my grandparents whom I visited regularly as a child and I thought local references and memories might be interesting. I was intending to skim read it but I was engrossed from the first page.
The loss of his mother at such a young age was by far the most traumatic thing that ever happened to him and whilst he acknowledges this and recognises how the experience, amongst other things, might have shaped him, he doesn't use it as an excuse. In fact it's interesting to see how a persons attributes and failings can be traced to parents, upbringing and early experiences.
I enjoyed his tales of escaping to the Harewood estate to go fishing and his first jobs, his days on the Kings Road with the Chelsea crowd through to his success as a Michelin starred chef. Most of all I admired his hard work, determination and passion for creating which comes through almost obsessively. Even if you have no interest in fine dining or 'cheffing' you can't help but enjoy his mischievous streak as he describes people he worked with and stories of pranks both in the kitchen and out.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2008
I vaguely remember Marco being married to Lisa Butcher for not very long quite a few years ago and that he had a bit of a temper, but apart from that i was completely oblivious to his existance - until i saw the first episode of the great british feast a few weeks ago, and sat transfixed at the man that was on the screen. I have since then read his autobiography to find out how this mesmerising, humourous, slightly bonkers man came about.
The book is a one sitting read, it is written exactly as if he was talking to you. The death of his mother when he was 6 seems to be the single event in his life that has shaped his life, that has made him the man that he is, and her death will haunt him until the day he dies. Yes, his behaviour has not always been perfect and he has many personality flaws, but he apologises for none of it, instead he just seems to tell you the plain truth for you to make up your own mind about his actions. He is nothing if not honest.
By the end of the book i was left near to tears with his final words about his mother. You just want to be able to mend him!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2010
Wow! What can I say? I couldn't put it down, I read the whole book in about 3 hours. It was honest, heartbreaking, funny and passionate, with lovely little cooking tips along the way that were totally personal and very Marco. Marco's northern wit mixed with his Italian fire, tells a story that makes you feel like he has opened up his soul to only you. This is a no holds barred account of a man who threw his whole being into a career he was in love with, sometimes at the expense of loved ones and ruining friendships and relationships along the way.
If you want a truthful, sexy, humerous, damn good read, buy this. Marco Pierre White's Devil in the Kitchen, is as juicy and succulent as one of Marco's own dishes, revealing that there is, probably, a little bit of Devil in all of us.
on 18 July 2011
Yes, he most certainly was a 'Devil in the Kitchen', but that description stops (or begins) at the kitchen door. I really enjoyed reading this book and read it every chance I had. He takes you from his life as a child in Leeds, to his days of a young, enterprising man in London and to the present, a man. A man who, maybe at times hasn't been very equable, you begin to quite like. His life has been colourful to say the least, but not in the way you might expect. The papers painted him as some sort of haughty, arrogant wild child. A life full of ostentatious parties, acrimonious disputes and turbulent love affairs. Most of these are affectations. I'll be frank, he was vociferous in the kitchen, and probably VERY difficult to work with, but he did it because he knew it was the only way to get the standard he required. He goes on in the book to say hes aware he was out of order at times, and people did leave in their first week of employment, but the ones that stayed with him all the way have gone on to be hugely successful people in their own right. He is unapologetic because of this. He knew what had to be done, and if he hadn't done it his way he couldn't have become the youngest and Britain's first chief to win 3 Michelin stars. Marco has got to where he is today through sheer determination. Blood, sweat and tears are the foundation of he professional life, well, maybe not so many tears. Anybody looking to start a career in the restaurant business will find this book very useful and informative. I like that the majority of this book is about his professional life. I respect him because of that. But don't worry if you want to know a bit more about the man that is Marco Pierre White, you certainly get the real flavour of him. What you see is what you get, and what you get is a man of steel, but not in an austere way. Balls of an Englishman and the heart of an Italian. Marco is an inspiring man. Not just professionally, but also personally. He inspires you to look inwards for strength and say 'I'm alright, it's the other bastards!!'
on 10 November 2012
I have been a fan of this great man for years and finally got to read his bio a few weeks ago and what a read it was!
Ever since I saw a documentary years ago I have been fascinated by what makes this man tick. I have never believed what the press said about him as I like to make my own mind up about people. The papers have always seemed to have it in for Marco and have given him some really unfair names over the years. Yes, he bollocked guys if they did not pull there weight...But it was never personal, just part of working in a VERY BUSY professional kitchen and he did fall out with one or two good friends, but don't we all? If you buy this book you will see in to the Real life of, yes, the greatest British chef who has ever lived bar none! The main artery that runs through this book is story of Marco loosing his mum at the age of six and it just shows him as a real person with real feelings and he really does have a very kind heart as you will find out if you read this fine book...The final page really made me weep, and as a full blooded male I am not ashamed at all!.
If we had grown up on the same street we could have been best mates as we both liked fishing , shooting and...POACHING! good on yer Marco and God bless you great man!