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