Marco Pierre White: Never ask a customer if they enjoyed a dish
It is the seemingly innocent question that has crept in to British restaurants in recent years, dividing customers between polite praise and secret annoyance. But it appears inquiries into whether customers enjoyed their food has no place in fine dining for Marco Pierre White.
Pierre White, the chef, has disclosed he banned staff from asking the question at his restaurants, arguing they must not be patronized or dictated to.
The restaurateur, who was awarded three Michelin stars during his cooking career, said house policy forbade inquiring whether patrons had enjoyed their food, saying it was better to leave them to deliver the truth without prompting.
He added he was not a fan of fashionable new restaurant styles, criticizing a trend for “conveyor belt cuisine” which presented many courses, “all of them tepid”.
In a rallying cry for simplicity, he said he would ideally like meals out to last an hour, with his favorite meal being a “ham sandwich with English mustard”.
The chef, who retired from cooking in 1999 after becoming the youngest person to win three Michael stars, now claims he is “much happier” living in the countryside, calling filming for his television work an “evil necessity”.
In an interview with Observer Food Monthly, on the 25th anniversary of the publication of his book, White Heat, he said he “craves the ordinary” in both lifestyle and food, disclosing he preferred simple good cooking to the trends of modern service.
Speaking of the experience of eating out today, he expressed frustration at staff that patronizes their customers who are busy eating their meals, exclaiming some “ask you if you enjoyed it!”
Claiming he does not visit fashionable new restaurants nowadays, he said: "They serve what I call conveyor belt cuisine: 18 courses, and all of them tepid.
“I want my food to be hot. I want to smell food when I walk into a restaurant. I don't want to be dictated to, or patronized.
"They ask you if you enjoyed it! We had a house policy: never ask a customer if they enjoyed a dish. Let them give back only the truth.
“It's not about sitting there for three hours. I get bored after an hour. I want to go home to bed at ten."
He did not specify which of his many restaurant he had issued the policy, after decades working at the top of his trade.
Now a businessman with a string of restaurants and franchises, Pierre White, who has worked with chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Jason Atherton, told the magazine he considers his time in the kitchen has “been and gone”.
He has previously worked on television shows including Hell’s Kitchen, and is currently starring in MasterChef Australia as well as working on a new television format in the US.
Saying work had been a “painkiller”, after he was “very unhappy” in his White Heat cooking heyday, Pierre White told the magazine he had changed direction after he rose to fame and “the world descended”.