Top UK chef Marco Pierre White always leaves New Zealand with some regret.

"I always felt a little bit guilty when I left, that New Zealand had given me more than I'd given New Zealand," White told the Weekend Herald.

"I had abalone burgers, which were delicious. The oysters too. Just even the meat - the steaks and the lamb - just delicious quality, really good quality."

But he'll have a chance to redeem himself as the headline guest of the Taste of Auckland food festival in October and November.


As he describes it himself, the UK chef will be a "link in the chain", cooking for 400 guests forking out $350 each for a white tie event on October 31 at Shed 10 on Queens Wharf.

The youngest chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, White is no stranger to New Zealand shores, having played a mentor role in the 2015 season of MasterChef New Zealand.

The challenge of cooking for such a substantial group doesn't at all faze White, who made his name at London restaurant Harvey's in the 1980s and 90s.

"Whether you do 400 or four, it's the same," White said.

"And remember, when you spend your life in the kitchen, you're trained to absorb pressure, to the point where you don't feel pressure.

"It's just another day in the office, it's as simple as that for me. I've done it many times in my life."

White said there were no plans at all for the menu on October 31 "but there's plenty of time yet" to work it out.

If his own tastes are anything to go by, then simple, high-quality produce is the key to a good meal.


"I eat well every day. You know, an omelette that is cooked to perfection is delicious, it's a luxury," he said.

"To have a ham sandwich with a little English mustard, in beautiful bread, with a little butter, is a luxury. So it's just about eating beautiful things."

White will oversee a 400 seat white tie dinner in Auckland on October 31. Photo / Supplied
White will oversee a 400 seat white tie dinner in Auckland on October 31. Photo / Supplied

White has a notable list of deputies to his name over the past three decades, having trained Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Curtis Stone and Shannon Bennett.

But he famously gave back his three Michelin stars in 1999 - the highest award to be given a restaurant internationally - when he retired from cooking professionally.

His empire as a restaurateur endures, however, spanning the London Steakhouse Co, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill and Marco's New York Italian by Marco Pierre White.

His first cookbook/autobiography, White Heat, published in 1990, remains one of the most influential guides for budding and seasoned chefs to this day.

And White's advice to chefs today doesn't stray too far from that formative guidebook.

"Read. Never stop reading. They should read all the cooking books that they can," White says.

"All the biographies of chefs, to take inspiration, to take knowledge. As I've said many times before the story is way more important than the recipe.

"A recipe can confuse you but a story can inspire you."

UK chef Marco Pierre White will be fronting the Taste of Auckland food festival in October 2019. Photo / Supplied
UK chef Marco Pierre White will be fronting the Taste of Auckland food festival in October 2019. Photo / Supplied

His title as the originator of the celebrity chef comes from early 1990s UK TV shows documenting his London restaurant Harvey's.

Since then he has appeared on British TV show Hell's Kitchen for two series, Hell's Kitchen Australia in 2017 and Marco Pierre's Kitchen Wars in 2012.

But it's safe to say the time on the screen hasn't influenced his self-image.

"Well firstly I don't class myself as a celebrity," White said.

"I made my name for what I put on the plate, by winning three Michelin stars. I didn't build my reputation by being on TV."

"By hanging up my apron and announcing my retirement, I can do what I want. If I want to go to New Zealand, I can go to New Zealand.

"If I had three stars in Michelin today, then I'd just be in my kitchen every lunch and every dinner."

Visitors to this year's Taste of Auckland will also be able to catch White from October 31 to November 3.

Dine With Marco Pierre White, Thursday, October 31, 2019

This dinner includes a four-course dinner, matching wines, entertainment, a charity auction and tickets to Taste of Auckland. Tables and individual seats on sale from Monday, July 8 from $350 pp via