Life

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White: 'Women are more emotional in the kitchen'

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White says men can absorb the pressure of the kitchen better, writes Niamh Horan

Cooking up a storm: Marco Pierre White says today's snowflake workers are unable to take a roasting from authority. Photo: David Conachy
Cooking up a storm: Marco Pierre White says today's snowflake workers are unable to take a roasting from authority. Photo: David Conachy

In an age where it's become politically incorrect to suggest men and women are in any way different - it takes a man like Marco Pierre White to call it as it is.

Never one to shy away from controversy, the original bad boy of British cooking has laid out his thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of the sexes in the kitchen.

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Speaking to the Sunday Independent, ahead of a new series of The Restaurant, the celebrity chef said, on the plus side: "Women tend to have a better palate, because they have a better sense of smell." He went on: "They are more consistent than men, when it comes to cooking, because they respect the house more, they do their job. They may not be as fast, they may not be as physically strong," but he says, "they are very consistent with their presentation [whereas] a man will try and change it because of his ego."

He also credits female chefs for being well-turned-out and punctual. However, he says: "The real positive with men is that men can absorb pressure better, that's the main difference, because they are not as emotional and they don't take things personally."

He added: "Men can absorb pressure in busy moments," adding that, "maybe the reason why women can't take pressure as much is because, in a kitchen, there might be 20 men and two women so they haven't got that friendship around them. Can you imagine if you were in a kitchen with 20 women? It's different. So, in a strange sort of way, you are filling out numbers and you haven't got people to talk to in the same way as you can with your own."

Asked what men bring to the table that women don't, he asserts: "They've got the physical strength."

He explains: "Look at the size of some of the pans you are carrying. Can you imagine you're a lady in the kitchen and saying 'will you carry that pan for me?' You don't want to say that do you?... So men are physically stronger and they can absorb the pressure of the kitchen better."

And on how both sexes tend to end up in very different roles, he explains: "What tends to happen with females in the kitchen is that they tend to go to larder or they tend to go to pastry, they are not in the main kitchen, and so that's why you see a lot of female pastry chefs... they haven't got the pressure."

But he said women ultimately pip men at the post for qualities they bring to the job, revealing: "We have all got strengths and weaknesses, but ladies, in many ways, have more qualities than men in a kitchen because your palate is number one, consistency is number two, punctuality is number three and ladies might go out on a Friday night - but they still turn up on a Saturday morning. Men tend to push it a bit too far and then ring in sick."

White, who became the first British chef to be awarded three Michelin stars and also the youngest, in then-Michelin history, also lamented how today's generation of snowflake workers are unable to take a roasting from authority, without calling in the lawyers.

Describing one of the first lessons he ever learned from a chef, he recalls how the man told a young Marco: "The first thing you have to learn is that 'service is service'. If a chef throws something at you, screams at you or swears at you, it's not personal, it's [about] service. And that is what Joe Bloggs of the public doesn't understand." Now he says: "You'd get taken to court."

He explained: "If I think of some of the things that chefs said to me and I went off to see a lawyer, I'd have a tribunal against them. In those days [the person you were complaining to would] tell you to go back to work. Today they would issue proceedings."

On some of the most colourful remarks he heard during his days, becoming one of the world's best-known chefs, he recalled how one chef used to scream at him "you f**king little c**t", while another opted for sexual innuendo: "I was making the hollandaise and he said 'that's lovely wrist action you've got there. Do you want [to come into the larder and] earn yourself five Woodbines?'"

In recent years, Marco says he met up with a chef who gave him his toughest training.

Marco says: "He pushed me to the point where I was breaking."

When he asked the man, over lunch, why he had treated him so brutally, he recalls how his former mentor, said: "You know why Marco, you know why... he said 'you give the people you see potential in the hardest time'."

A brand new series of 'The Restaurant' with Marco Pierre White and Rachel Allen starts on Virgin Media One, September 12, at 9pm with six new celebrities

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