Marco Pierre White to retire from the kitchen

MARCO PIERRE WHITE, the original enfant terrible of British cooking, announced yesterday that he would be hanging up his chef's hat at the end of the year.

The temperamental Yorkshire chef, who is famous for ejecting unwanted customers, wants to concentrate on expanding his restaurant empire and spend time with his family. He has two sons aged four and five with his partner Matilda, and one daughter from the first of two previous marriages.

White, 37, was the first British-born chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, the highest French honour for professional cooking. He will hand them back when he ceasesoverseeing service at The Oak Room in Le Meridien Hotel, London, on Christmas Eve. "I always said I would retire from cooking before I was 40," he said. "I will be 38, the age my mother was when she died. If someone told me I was going to live to 75 I might feel differently. I plan to open restaurants outside of London and I wish to explore the international market too. I simply can't do that chained to a stove."

Throughout his teens and early twenties, White worked his way up through the kitchens of Raymond Blanc, Nico Ladenis, Pierre Koffmann and Albert Roux, who became his mentor and fondly dubbed him the "little genius".

As well as The Oak Room, White runs London restaurants at The Criterion on Piccadilly, Mirabelle, Titanic, L'Escargot, The Big Chef, the Grill Room in the Cafe Royal, and Quo Vadis in Soho, which Damien Hirst used to co-own. The MPW Criterion Ltd , which White owns jointly with Granada plc, is estimated to be worth up to pounds 50m.

"I have been in the kitchen for 21 years and my love for restaurants will never die," White said. "A lot of people find it difficult to bow out at the top. I have achieved the ultimate of three Michelin stars. But it is much more exciting chasing the stars than defending them."

White, who is half Italian and half English, is almost as famous for his management style as his cuisine. On one occasion he sent away 50 diners from his restaurant. He claims to have grown out of such habits, but has no regrets. "Twelve years ago restaurants were very boring. I have helped to change all that," he said, adding that he now wanted "to take things up another level".

Earlier this year White suffered disappointment when he auctioned two millennium parties at the Mirabelle and Criterion. Both restaurants failed to reach their reserve price of pounds 90,000 each.

White, who trained Gordon Ramsay, the chef featured in Channel 4's Boiling Point, wanted to tell the Michelin inspectors of his decision to quit before they drew up next year's edition. He thanked them for supporting him throughout his career, saying: "Even during my wilder years they ignored press reports and simply judged me on my cooking."

WHITE'S WIT AND WISDOM

1987: "I might not be the best, but I am the prettiest."

On ejecting a critic from his restaurant: "You don't like me and I didn't like you. Please leave now, no bill will be submitted."

On hearing that his old boss, Nico Ladenis, had received his third star, he said: "Congratulations. I just want to ask you one thing? Did you get it for your eat-ins, or take-aways?"

Yesterday: "I shall continue to write cookery books, continue not to appear on television and continue not to dine in other people's restaurants unless I'm thinking of buying them."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test