Last Updated on June 8, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
BBC Maestro Cookery Course with Marco Pierre White.
‘Let the greatest be your teachers’ is the strapline of the BBC Maestro series with courses covering book writing for children to cuisine. One of the greats of the food world is undoubtedly Marco Pierre White who is a legend at the stove and also a great presenter. His three and a half hour course is entitled Delicious Food Cooked Simply during which White gets down to business and presents 35 short tutorials covering an impressive range of dishes. The course is accompanied by a download containing printable recipes as well as some guidelines for basic kitchen equipment.
Marco Pierre White was the youngest chef in the world – and the first in Britain – to achieve three Michelin stars and has been called the godfather of modern cooking. He started his classical training under the Roux brothers at Le Gavroche and by the age of 24, he was Head Chef and joint owner of Harveys. Gordon Ramsey was one of his protégés and other illustrious chefs who trained under him include Heston Blumenthal, Jason Atherton and Matt Tebbutt. He believes in encouraging cooks to develop confidence in the kitchen through learning about the classical combinations and techniques, rather than following recipes parrot-fashion.
White is a wonderful raconteur and the series begins with him sitting at his kitchen table, talking to the camera about his beginnings as a chef. At age 16, his father sent him from Leeds to Harrogate to knock on the kitchen doors of the hotels to ask for work. He was soon to leave school and his father was determined he should have a job. He had no dreams of being a chef, having hoped to work as a river manager. He was accustomed to obeying his father, Frank White, who was a chef in Leeds. He began work at The St George’s Hotel in Harrogate and after a few months plucked up the courage to apply for a job at The Box Tree, the three Michelin star restaurant 15 miles away. Later, at Harvey’s, he worked ambitiously with his team towards the ultimate accolade – three stars in the Michelin guide as well as 5 red knives and forks – the latter denoting that the restaurant itself is in the luxury category regarding its comfort. The only other restaurant in Britain with 5 red knives and forks was The Ritz, but, observes White, in his gravelly, mellifluous voice, ‘they had no stars’. White preferred the ‘attacking game’ of winning the stars rather than the ‘defensive game’ of maintaining his place in the industry. He grew bored. Many people may find their work boring, but few are putting in a one hundred hour week. At the end of December 1999, he contacted Michelin to give back his stars and ended his career as a chef. At 38 he had rendered himself unemployed.
After five years spent in nature, White returned to cook for friends and family, bringing a bit of his three-star world into the domestic kitchen. He discovered there was more pleasure to be had cooking for people he loves than people with a wallet. He points out that people ‘did not come round to be impressed, they came round to be fed’. Keep cooking simple at home.
White’s course on BBC Maestro includes 29 dishes. I set about watching the recipe videos with anticipation, hoping that my own kitchen skills were about to be turbo boosted. The course costs £80 and the videos can be watched as often as you would like. This is very handy as viewers will want to make the dishes again and again. I downloaded the notes that are sent along with the course which enabled me to print out the recipes.
I attempted what is on the face of it a very simple recipe and one that I make regularly – scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. It turns out that I have been making it all wrong. At least according to Marco Pierre White if not my mother. His way involves no whisking of the eggs in a bowl, nor the adding of milk before pouring into a very hot pot and then reducing the heat. That’s the way I do it. Now I have learned something very different. I gave it a go. The eggs are poured whole into a less hot pot than the one I use. No whisking. No wooden spoon – this I found hard. I replaced it with a spatula as White does. Slow, slow cooking. The result made for a splendid light supper. The eggs were creamier than I have ever achieved – and I did not even add the splash of cream as instructed by White as I had none in the fridge. The salmon was far better sliced very thinly rather than spread over in one piece as I usually do. The cooking time was no longer than normal as I always cook my eggs slowly, but the scrambled egg looked different – there were ribbons of white and yellow as White suggests. I will be mending my ways from now on as I would have been very happy to have been served this in a restaurant for brunch. I’m not sure my family will recognise that they are eating 3-star Michelin cooking for their breakfast but I will be just as proud! Other recipes on offer include several for seafood – a classic prawn cocktail, for example – plus how to cook the perfect steak with sauce au poivre, ceps, snails or Lyonnaise; roast chicken with mushroom risotto; what to do with potatoes, tomatoes, fish, ragu, lentils, ratatouille and piperade. If you want to learn some of the classic methods of simple French cooking without spending hours in the kitchen, this course will certainly up your game. Unless, of course, you already have 3 stars in the Michelin guide.
Tempted? Right now, there’s a chance for one lucky London-Unattached reader to win an online cooking course from Marco Pierre White via BBC Maestro. Dubbed the godfather of modern cooking, Marco Pierre White reveals his insight, stories and secrets from over 40 years in the kitchen. The course consists of 35 video lessons and an 89-page downloadable chef’s book which will help you unlock his wisdom, tips, tricks and delicious recipes. Worth £80, it’s one you can follow at your own pace too.
To enter simply pop over to Marco’s Page on the BBC Maestro site to learn more about Marco Pierre White and check the recipes you’ll be learning to cook. Let me know in the comments below which recipe you’d like to try the most! You’ll get extra entries by simply following @londonunattatched and @bbcmaestro on Instagram.
This giveaway closes at midnight on 7th July 2021