Marcus Wareing on the hell of being an upcoming chef in the 80s: 'It was survival of the fittest'

Jayne Cherrington-Cook
·4 min read
Chef and owner of 'Petrus' Gordon Ramsay (right) with head chef Marcus Wareing after they recieved  the AA Restaurant of the Year Award during a ceremony at the Renaissance London, Chancery Court Hotel, London.   (Photo by William Conran - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chef and owner of 'Petrus' Gordon Ramsay (right) with head chef Marcus Wareing after they recieved the AA Restaurant of the Year Award (William Conran - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

With a career of over 30 years as a chef, Marcus Wareing knows all about the hard work it takes to become top of his industry, however, he says his early days in restaurants during the ‘80s and ‘90s was really tough.

The chef, who was talking on Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time, said it was a tough industry when he was younger.

“It's a very different place today though, thank goodness, because back then it was about survival of the fittest,” he told Thornton.

Listen: Marcus Wareing implores Brits to holiday in this country to help boost the economy

The chef began his career at just aged 18 at The Savoy Hotel under esteemed chef Anton Edelmann in 1988. The huge kitchen was run precisely, with Wareing comparing the sous chefs to “the Gestapo” who weren’t shy of shouting their orders.

“They were marching on that kitchen,” he recalled.

“It needed those people. It needed that voice, that volume. It needed to drive this machine of chefs forward, because the quality of work that we were going through was just quite extraordinary as a team but as individuals…

Bradley Cooper (left) and Marcus Wareing arriving for the Burnt premiere at Vue West End, Leicester Square, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 28, 2015. Photo credit should read: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Bradley Cooper (left) and Marcus Wareing arriving for the Burnt premiere at Vue West End, Leicester Square, London. (Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)

"It was like you had to do it through this massive of Sergeant Majors going around, cracking the whip, so to speak.”

Read more: Wareing pleads with Brits top support UK restaurants

While it was an amazing first job, it was tough and required long hours – something Wareing only believes he survived because of a strong work ethic installed in him by his father.

“What I didn't realise was is that I wasn't really qualified to be in that level of kitchen at my age — I survived because of the work ethic,” he stated.

Michelin Starred Chef Marcus Wareing launches the revolutionary Kenwood Cooking Chef at John Lewis, Oxford Street in central London.
Michelin Starred Chef Marcus Wareing launches the revolutionary Kenwood Cooking Chef at John Lewis, Oxford Street in central London.

He continued: “I could outwork anybody in any kitchen when I was younger. My father taught me a work ethic — how to stand on your feet for 15 hours a day was not an issue for me. We worked some serious, long hours when I worked with my dad. I was just a trained worker at whatever I did.”

The chef believes his hard work is actually what made him stand out in the chef crowd.

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“It wasn't always about being the most talented chef in the kitchen, it was about how you applied yourself,” he told Thornton.

“You always got recognised for your hard work more than the quality of one or two dishes that you created in one service.”

Wareing, who worked for the renowned foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay at Aubergine in the early ‘90s, said not all restaurants were full of aggression. His second job at Le Gavroche in 1993 was a much more pleasant affair, especially as he got to work with his idol Albert Roux.

“It was small, it was it was intimate,” explained Wareing.

“So, the communication was clear, it was crisp, and it was of the moment. It was only if you let yourself down, that someone would raise their voice.”

Read more: Legendary French chef Albert Roux dies aged 85

Describing leaving The Savoy for Le Gavroche like “leaving a Fiat garage for a F1 garage” he said working for an elite establishment like that helped him discover his way in the world of cooking.

“When I walked into Gavroche, I just saw something that was where I'd always wanted to try and get to,” he explained.

“It was that that sort of F1 garage rather than the volume, and that's where I found my niche.”

Hear Marcus Wareing talk about how he hopes the government will help restaurants reopen in the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on Apple Podcasts, acast and Spotify.

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