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The Devil in the Kitchen: The Autobiography - Marco Pierre White

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Genre: Biography / Author: Marco Pierre White / Paperback / 336 Pages / Book is published 2007-08-22 by Orion

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    5 Reviews
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      08.05.2013 10:09
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      Interesting book about a fascinating and unusual character

      I bought this book for my partner's birthday and thankfully he read it pretty quickly, as I was keen to read it myself.

      With some autobiographies you are left thinking that a quick google could have saved you your money, but not so with this one. I suppose it's in keeping with his attitude that he wouldn't wish or need to hold anything back, this is me, like-it-or-lump-it kind of approach - this is certainly what comes across in the book.

      Marco goes into some depth about his childhood and life in Leeds, including little things like dealing with having an unusual name because of his mothers' heritage. There are some really good photographs from all stages in his life, and his fondness for his mother is really clear to see in both the words and the pictures. He lost his mother at the age of 6 and the impact of this loss is felt throughout the entire book.

      His progression into working in the kitchens and the people who shaped and influenced his career represents, as you would imagine, a major part of the book, and his fiery attitude and approach to work is evident throughout. There are some really cracking anecdotes, including one of our favourites when a dish which wasn't up to scratch was thrown up the wall but chef was not allowed to clean it off, it had to stay there to remind him of the horror of the below-par dish! There are also some gritty, less palatable moments of life in the kitchen, and in his restaurants - fallings out with customers (some famous) and his taking-no-prisoners drive to get to the top and be successful. Some of this makes uncomfortable reading but all very vividly and cleverly written, and you can't help but enjoy it!. His achievements are also covered and he clearly has great pride in the landmarks he reached throughout his career including opening and owning his restaurants and the awards of the Michelin Stars before "falling out of love" with the scene.

      Anecdotes where Marco encountered other chefs who are also well known (either at the time of the encounter, or have become so since) were also of particular interest to me, I enjoyed those parts immensely - references to Gordon Ramsey, the Roux's and Raymond Blanc particularly.

      Marco's doesn't shy from talking about his personal life, and again you feel, without holding back. Since the book was written (2007), his relationships/status have changed but there is still an overriding feeling that he is honest in his writing and when he talks about his family, it really comes from the heart.

      This is a great book, well written, and - I felt - revealing about the subject. I liked the way it's written in relatively short chapters. The photographs are great and although it's only a few years since I read it, having written this review I have no doubt that I would also enjoy a re-read with no trouble at all, - and soon ! - something which is unusual for me with any book. A great book.

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        20.06.2010 17:55
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        The Original Superstar Chef Bites Back

        Devil in the Kitchen is the autobiography of erstwhile Kitchen superstar Marco Pierre White, a man who prior to his stint as a cook on some awful ITV reality shows was widely regarded as the greatest British chef of his generation and still is by most who know about cooking.

        Price;

        Available in Paperback for 5.68 at Amazon or for 93p new on their marketplace this is an entertaining and honest account of somebody who really has lived a full life and achieved a lot, both emotionally and physically.

        Context;

        The book tells the Story of Marco Pierre White a yorkshire man with an Italian name, we follow him through childhood as he learns to hunt and learns about the quality and value of food, he then moves around to develop his cooking skills working with such kitchen luminaries as Pierre Kaufmann in France, Nico Ladenis and Albert Roux, he also works for Raymond Blanc before becoming head chef at his own restaurant Harveys. The list of people he worked for is a list of some of the great chefs of the eighties and nineties and whilst he accepts he learnt from them all and is gracious about their qualities, the guy has no fear and is obviously in his element in the hostile atmosphere of a professional kitchen.

        White is honest in his statements about the beastings young chefs receive and admits that a young chef working for him, Gordon Ramsey took a lot of abuse, later in the book, Ramsey plays some pranks which clearly made him an enemy for life in the eyes of White.

        I have to admit I love this book, I find it inspiring as White talks of the death of his mother an event that obviously hit him hard and the work of his father to bring up 4 boys, White discusses his dyslexia as a challenge not as something that impeded him in anyway, at no point does he descend to self pity but finds challenge in everything and overcomes it, but not in an American reality tv style way.

        White when talking about food is utterly passionate and this shines through and makes you root for him more, I don´t like the ITV programmes but I know from reading this book, that this is a passionate guy who loves food and cooking and can appreciate why he feels he needs to pass this passion onto others in the way he does.

        His personal life is an altogether different kettle of fish and he obviously carries his passion into his love life and feuds with others.

        The book is honest, for the first half, utterly endearing and a passionate discussion of food and its qualities. I found the second half with feuds, restaurant openings and closures and failed marriages interesting but for me the man and his cooking are the most important elements of this tale.

        I like the fact White is prepared to stand up for his values and confront customers who question his cooking, whilst I think somebody pays and has a right to complain, the fact he is prepared to stand his ground is interesting, pig headed but shows he believes utterly in what he does.

        Whilst he has a lot of restaurants and other interests today the book left me feeling like he yearns for the days where he ran Harveys and was the superstar of London cooking.

        This is an interesting and varied book and a good introduction to the man behind the gruff public image, its honest, inspiring in parts and annoying in others, like a good book should be.

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        30.10.2009 12:07
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        A fantastic autobiography of an interesting man.

        The Devil In The Kitchen is the 2006 autobiography of celebrated chef Marco Pierre White, famous for being the youngest chef ever to win 3 of the coveted Michelin stars. It was ghost written by James Steen after conducting many interviews with his friend Marco. I'm not a big fan of celebrity autobiographies and previously to this had only read a few others. I bought the book on amazon for £4.97 and found it a fantastically interesting read.
        The books depicts the life of Marco Pierre White from losing his mother aged just six through years spent training in the some of the greatest restaurants in England under world renowned chefs to the day he finally won the three Michelin stars he had worked so intensely for. On the way we learn about each of Marco's three marriages and two divorces (the book was written before his third divorce,) his famous "fallings-out" with everyone from Albert Roux to Michael Caine to former protégé Gordon Ramsey and the rise and fall of his passion for cooking.

        I have to say that I really enjoyed the book and felt it was a well-written and intriguing autobiography. Though Marco's life of cooking and food are clearly the stars of the book space is also dedicated to his experiences of family, love and lessons he has learnt in life. The mixture of topics works well and you never feel like you are being over intrusive into his personal life as there are no crudely private details revealed.

        James Steen has captured Marco's manner of speaking very well indeed and the book is written in the same deliberate, calm way that Pierre White speaks. He's clearly tried to cover every aspect of Marco's life and has more or less succeeded. However, I felt that some of the more controversial things that the great man has said or done were brushed to the side a little or covered up. Marco doesn't seem to like admitting fault and Steen doesn't seem to want to challenge Marco, maybe because of their friendship. Regardless of this it is an extremely well-written book that moves fluidly. I especially like the occasional cooking tips that are thrown in as well as the memories of other people about their first meeting with Marco.

        One tiny gripe do have with this autobiography is the quality of the photographs in it. The photos are on the chapter pages rather than proper photo paper and are often grainy and difficult to decipher as they are all in black and white. A little bit of colour wouldn't have gone amiss here.

        The style of the book falls between serious and light-heartened in tone and it always feels like Marco's real life is being described as opposed to some magical fairytale existence. I have always preferred Marco to other celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver (patronising) and Gordon Ramsey (overly aggressive.) Therefore for me this autobiography not only gives us a glimpse into his life but also reinforces my opinion that he is an intelligent, hard-working yet quite neurotic man. If you dislike him anyway then this book probably won't affect your estimation of l'enfant terrible of the kitchen. Nonetheless it is a fascinating read and insight into the life and mind of one of the greatest British chef's of all time.

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          19.09.2009 16:55
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          I gave this book as part of a birthday present for somebody but whenever I hand out books as gifts, I feel the need to have a read before. Just to make sure it's suitable of course. I became a fan of Marco from watching Hells Kitchen, some might say more than necessary! Anyhow, I'm not a big reader of autobiographies. The only books which have been written about a persons life that has particularily interested me was Roald Dahls 'Boy' and 'Going Solo'

          The Devil in the Kitchen is in fact a very good read. It covers a great deal of Marcos early life, what inspired him to become a chef and the death of his Mother at an early age. It leads into how he grew up in a very dominated male society. With his Father and two older brothers to depend on and how his only real pleasure was to go fishing.

          He also writes about how he was at that time the youngest chef to earn three Michelin stars and he doesn't fail to mention a few well hidden comments on how Gordon Ramseys technique when working on cooking shows.

          Some of the memories he provides are quite amusing and then you are also given plenty of photographs of him as a young man. Even Gordon makes an appearance where he is being taught how to prepare a dessert along with the well known slashing of a training chefs clothes when he complained about the heat and a young Raymond Blanc.

          Despite having a slighty difficult public life he comes across as a person who has lived and learnt by his mistakes. Especially when it concerns his family. Who are mentioned a great deal and coincide a lot with his decisions about why he left the kitchen.

          On TV programmes he's be in he has commented on how great friends he is with all of these celebrities. I do like Marco but bless him, he is a big name dropper. Even in his book he hasn't failed to note down those well known people.

          There is a great deal of depth in this autobiography and Marco Pierre White doesn't hold back on anything. He really does say what he is thinking or writing as the case may be. Whilst the heart of it is based in the kitchen he delves a lot into the mishaps which occurred in his marriages and relationships. Between his wives at other family members.

          It's easy from reading this that he has had an interesting life and is more worthy of writing these style of books than other 'celebrities' which have only been in the limelight for about 2 minutes. He hasn't painted himself as this wonderful person who has never done anything wrong. Being very open about things which he has acheived and items which some might be ashamed to admit to.

          This was released in 2007 and follows after his 2006 autobiography White Slave. I'm not entirely sure as to why he released two books so close together but I have not yet read the predecessor so maybe I shall find out soon.

          You can get Devil in the Kitchen for £5.39 from Amazon and even if you are not interested in the cooking side of things there is plenty of his experiences which you can enjoy.

          A surprisingly good read.

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            21.01.2008 23:23
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            Well worth a read

            The Devil in the Kitchen is the auto-biography of Marco Pierre White, the well-known chef. Marco Pierre White was the youngest British chef, aged just 33, to have obtained three Michelin stars. In 2007 he re-appeared in the public eye when he presented ITV's Hell's Kitchen.

            The book is a superb read, inevitably covering his early life, his entry into kitchens through to his time at Harvey's, his award-winning restaurant. It also covers the relationship which he had with fellow chef Gordon Ramsay, who worked for White for many years, which went from great friendship to great animosity.

            The book is quite motivational, not just for those interested in a life as a chef in a kitchen, but for anyone interested in finding achievement in the field which interests them. Marco Pierre White took many years to reach his three Michelin stars and won enormous respect from fellow chefs once he had got there.

            I also found amusing some of the memories that Pierre White had in the kitchen and the turbulent relationships which the chefs had with each other in the aggressive and stressful environment of the kitchen. White was able to make Ramsay cry and woe betide the young chef who said that he thought it was too hot in the kitchen!

            The book also covers White's decision to leave the kitchen, which took many by surprise. He says that he is of the view that once you stop enjoying being in the kitchen, it's time to take a break and try something else.

            Marco Pierre White also has had a difficult personal life, having been married three times. White's book covers the difficulties he has had in his personal life and the reasons he did what he did.

            Overall, the book is interesting and lively. It manages to cover a wide brush of subjects, from the kitchens he worked in and developed to the other chefs who worked with him. His personal life and decision to move away from the kitchen add to his story, which is certainly a life which has been eventful.

            If you find this book interesting, I would also suggest reading Gordon Ramsay's auto-biography, "Playing With Fire".

            The ISBN is 0752881612 (978-0752881614) and the book retails at 8.99 pounds, although is currently available for 5.84 pounds at Amazon.

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            An amazing new cookbook from Britain's favourite TV chef, exploring the many and varied cuisines of the Med.