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Devil in the kitchen Paperback – 22 Aug 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Softcover Edition Second Impressio edition (22 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752881612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752881614
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

This book should serve as a primer to young men on the make (GUARDIAN)

Book Description

The long-awaited autobiography of the archetypal kitchen bad boy - Marco Pierre White

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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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!
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By sam155 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Dec. 2007
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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.
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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.
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