Celebrity British chef Marco Pierre White was recently in Mumbai as part of World on a Plate, a gourmet event held at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. He hosted a masterclass where he demonstrated how to create his signature Risotto a la Milanese and the iconic Lamb Wellington. This was followed by Chef White cooking an exclusive meal for select guests. He also spoke to Outlook Traveller about his favourite ingredient to cook with, a dish that is close to his heart, and more. Excerpts from the interview here.
This is your 4th visit to India. What is your favourite part about coming to Mumbai?
My favourite part is just being here. It’s so visually powerful. And the emotional impact when you drive or walk through the streets of Mumbai is just extraordinary.
Is there anything special you enjoyed eating here?
We have a lot of good Indian restaurants in England, and my favourite thing to eat is biryani. The way the rice and the meat are slow-cooked makes a difference in the final outcome. I had the most delicious meal at San:Qi at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. Their lamb biryani was sensational. It was lamb cooked on the bone, and the best part was digging the marrow out at the end.
What can one expect from a masterclass experience with you?
When you have an hour, you can’t teach much. So, I teach the principles. Because I’ve always said, cooking is a philosophy, not a recipe, unless it’s pastry, and then it is chemistry. So what I do is create maybe a simple spaghetti with the lobster. Oh, it’s delicious and quick. And a risotto. Once you learn the principles, life gets easier.
The one ingredient that is key to a Marco Pierre White recipe?
Life without carrots is not a life. I also love butter. I like fat. I enjoy all those things that are deliciously bad for you. We really live one life. I like the combination of butter and olive oil together—it is a sensation. I think psychologically—so I’m eating butter, it’s not good for you, but it’s delicious. I like food, I like eating, and I enjoy indulging. And that’s what I love about gastronomy—the whole indulgence of it.
Your favourite meal?
I like something that’s very slow-cooked. So it could be a braised cheek of beef, for example. Or a shoulder of lamb, which is slowly roasted. I like it when the meat breaks down and the fat sort of renders. I like eating—it’s about the comfort and the emotional impact.
A cuisine you love to eat?
Indian cuisine is without question one of the most sumptuous cuisines. Very few countries in the world understand how to use spices like India. Your use of spice, is like no one in this world. Perhaps only people from the subcontinent use spices so intuitively—it comes naturally in their cuisine because, remember, cooking is a philosophy, not a recipe.