Before our recent dining experience where Marco visited our restaurant, Coconut-Couture spoke to the man himself about all things food, his favourite cuisine, cultural food styles and the best dessert to whirl up this summer.
This is how it went…
Why did you decide to become a chef?
I didn’t. My father was a chef, so I became a chef. I wanted to be a gamekeeper, I wanted to be a riverkeeper. The first year in my career, I worked at the Hotel St. George in Harrogate, and it was just a job for me. And then one day I found out about a restaurant, called The Box Tree, which happened to be just 15 miles down the road. And then another day I plucked up the courage to apply for a job and I got a job, and that’s where my love started. One of my mentors came from just around the corner in Ferryhill, Mr Ken Lamb.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
Something easy, quick and simple. Like a *in Italian accent* risotto. Like a great bowl of pasta. Like the most perfect omelette. Like the most delicious salad, a roast chicken just banged in the oven then let the oven do the work. Simple. A ham sandwich with good English mustard. A cup of tea. Yorkshire, Betty’s. It’s got to be comforting, otherwise, it doesn’t turn me on, it doesn’t excite me, it doesn’t make me want more.
How do you continuously devise new and interesting recipes?
Oh well, I don’t. Because I’m a classicist. So I think we live in a world of refinement, not invention. I think to try and change the shape of the wheel you’ve got to be a complete lunatic. You know, people come up with these strange combinations in the hope that they’ll be recognised, every great chef in this world has a classical foundation, and they lay that foundation and then they can come on. Once you’ve laid that foundation, then you can build the building, the building being your reputation.
What’s your personal favourite type of cuisine?
French is the ultimate cuisine. If you look at the great restaurants of this country, if you look at the great restaurants of France, they’ve all taken the French method and introduced it into their cuisine. You see other cuisines which now have Michelin Stars, they’re trying to present it like French cuisine.
I personally like to bake, so what would you say is the best summer dessert to master?
Well, there are lots of desserts which are delicious, but I think in the summer, I think you should make something like a red fruit jelly, with all those fresh English berries, like raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants for example. Fraises des bois, the wild strawberries. You get some rosé wine and then you turn it into a jelly. But when you make the syrup first before you turn it into a jelly, what you do is you take the rosé wine, you take the sugar, you dissolve the sugar in the wine to make the syrup and you take a little bit out and then you add gelatine to the rest of it and then you set your fruit in it. And then you turn that out and then you pour over that delicious syrup with all the fruits around.
Oooh that sounds good!
If you’d like to try out Marco’s dishes for yourself, pop along to our restaurant!