With a father who was a fruit and vegetable merchant and a brother working as a chef, Marcus Wareing, who was raised in the north west of England, has always been surrounded by food in one way or another. Given his status as one of the most high-profile, successful chefs working in Britain today it seems somewhat surprising that he was initially more interested in following in his father’s footsteps than those of his brother. However, seeing no future in the family business, his father encouraged Marcus to pursue a different career and his brother suggested he undertake a catering course at Southport College.
From being – by his own admission – a “mediocre school student” Marcus Wareing suddenly found himself top of his class, catching the eye of more than one of his tutors as being a naturally gifted chef. After shining in a local catering competition, it wasn’t long before the ambitious young Marcus Wareing was recommended for a position at the Savoy, working in a kitchen with over 100 other chefs.
After leaving the Savoy he worked at the prestigious Roux establishment Le Gavroche before moving on to work at some of the finest restaurants around the world including the Point in New York, the Grand in Amsterdam, Guy Savoy in Paris and the Aubergine, Gordon Ramsay’s first restaurant. At the latter, Marcus Wareing took on a position as sous chef, an experience that would redefine his approach to hard work.
Marcus Wareing’s precision and dedicated work ethic paid off and the chef achieved Michelin stars during his time at both L’Oranger and the Savoy Grill. In 1999 Marcus Wareing became chef patron of the much lauded Pétrus, the restaurant attached to the opulent Berkeley Hotel, earning two Michelin stars during his 9 year tenure.
Deciding to forge his own path Marcus Wareing took over the lease of Pétrus in 2008. Rebranded as Marcus at the Berkeley in 2014, the restaurant underwent extensive refurbishment to reflect Marcus Wareing’s desire to shake up the notoriously formal fine dining scene. His vision was a flexible, relaxed restaurant that would still serve up cuisine of the highest quality and serve the needs of whoever sat down to eat. It was a formula that proved successful and the restaurant has retained its impressive two Michelin stars.
Wareing's meticulous style is as much about applying imaginative good taste to ingredients as dazzling technique. His cuisine marries the classic with the contemporary, resulting in dishes that feel refined but humble too. As the chef himself defines it, “it’s not British cuisine, it’s not French cuisine – it’s Marcus cuisine’.
In addition to his eponymous restaurant the chef has opened two other venues, the St Pancras brasserie the Gilbert Scott and affordable, relaxed eatery Tredwell’s. While food at Marcus’ displays the sort of panache one would expect from a two-Michelin-star fine-dining establishment, the menu at the Gilbert Scott serves up slightly more nostalgic, humble offerings. Eccles cakes, Manchester tart and Jaffa cakes – admittedly executed with a wry, culinary twist – are popular fixtures on the menu, and represent dishes Marcus Wareing remembers fondly from his own childhood.
Despite Marcus Wareing’s immense success – after all, this is a man who has cooked custard tart for the Queen on Great British Menu – he still maintains the same relentlessly dedicated work ethic he learnt from his father. He is usually in the office at Marcus at the Berkeley by 8.30am, dividing his time throughout the day between business meetings and tastings in the kitchen; no sauce or garnish prepared for the lunch service will go out without first being approved by Marcus Wareing himself. The chef is present at every dinner service where possible, and on any occasion where he is not able to be there he is in contact with his head chef throughout the day and insists that diners are aware that their food is not being prepared by him personally.
With an impressive cluster of accolades, a burgeoning television career and a growing number of well-loved restaurants to his name, Marcus Wareing seems to be treading a similar path to his former mentor and friend. Despite his growing success, however, the chef is adamant that hands-on cooking will always be his number one priority.