22 | Feb | 19

Richard Johnson

The Great White

Marco Pierre White – AKA The Great White – has always loved the informality of street food. The greatest chef this country has ever produced came to the launch of the British Street Food Awards ten years ago and he’s been at the end of the phone ever since. He gives great advice. He doesn’t rattle the pots and pans any more – no time. He’s too busy working on the big screen biopic of his life, in production with Ridley Scott, and his latest venture – his hotel in Wiltshire.

Rudloe Arms is an exquisite place, set in 14 acres of mature grounds. On the crest of a hill, it’s got stunning views across the Box Valley towards Bath. We wandered through his new planting (as with all of his projects, White is very hands on), down past the dovecot, to the Oxford Sandy and Black pigs and Wiltshire Horn sheep. We talked about his idea to bring street food to the small screen (watch this space) and listened to the birds.

Difficult to believe that this is the original rock-star chef. The one who made Gordon Ramsay cry – who would string up his kitchen juniors by their aprons before dumping them in the dustbin. I remember us at his book launch in New York. There was flaming sambuca everywhere. White got burnt, and had to ram his hand into a bucket of ice water, and bandage it up in a table napkin, before somebody – nobody quite remembers who – rolled him into a cab back to our hotel.

Now he’s got a hotel of his own. Rock and roll, for sure, but elegant. And you wouldn’t throw the food out of the window, even though Marco doesn’t cook it himself. He was the youngest chef ever to win three Michelin stars, but he gave them back. And that was 1999. He hasn’t cooked since – not even at home. Like he says, where’s the adrenalin fix in cooking dinner for the family? If he does return it will have to be something special. The final of the 2019 British Street Food Awards?