Marcus Wareing is a serious chef.
He has worked under Anton Endelmann, Albert Roux and Gordon Ramsey. He was a Head Chef at 25 and earned his first Michelin star at 27. He famously recruited Angela Hartnett another Ramsey protege; all in all, this is a man with a serious gastronomic history and pedigree.
He remains Head Chef at the two Michelin starred Berkeley and has recently started a second venture at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, a restaurant named after the hotel’s original designer, Gilbert Scott (which I am pleased to say I will be dining in during August). The book very much ties in with the launch of that venture.
This is not your stereotypical book; it doesn’t accompany a TV series, it doesn’t have an accompany set of chef branded knives or kitchen devices, it is what it is – a book of recipes, that stands alone. Yes, there is great photography (verging on food porn), but let’s cut through that and look at the core of what Marcus has achieved here.
This is a well researched book into classic British cuisine. It does lapse into “cheffy” presentation and some of the dishes have been faffed about with a bit to achieve that “wow” factor on the plate, but it is chock full of classic British in such a way that I don’t think we have seen since Constance Spry in 1956.
Whilst many chefs have tried to revitalise British cuisine, or demonstrate that it has become a world gastronomic power giving two fingers to long-standing jibes from the French, and in that comment I am thinking Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain or the Hairy Bikers and others, this is 260 pages of unadulterated proof that classic British cuisine was NEVER inferior and was always the rival of anything.
All I will say is that he lapses in this book into the Gordon Ramsey style, which is to assume you already know the basics and have access to a certain array of equipment and ingredients. If you aren’t already a relatively seasoned home chef, to be fair, I suspect you may struggle with some of the recipes.
My New Year’s Eve tradition is to invite a couple of friends over, have some decent wine, and to prepare three courses from a single chef’s cookbook. This removes some of the pressure from me to invent something, and makes it social and interactive, as various guests will choose dishes in the run up. It also allows me to outsource some of the labour by saying “follow that”, whilst I put my feet up.
Last year, Rachel Khoo won that honour (Potato and Pear Galette with Roquefort, Coq au Vin skewers and Creme Brulee); baring a miracle, I very much suspect Marcus Wareing will be providing the recipes this year, from this excellent book.
Marcus’ book, The Gilbert Scott Book of British Food can be purchased from Amazon here;