Posted by: Sam Carson | 5 September, 2007

Keith Richards meets Yoda: why Marco Pierre White makes great TV

There are so many angles to ace chef Marco Pierre White’s appearance on ITV’s Hell’s Kitchen that you cannot ignore your curiousity. My attention was drawn to the new season of the show by a Times Magazine artcle that is well worth a read.

First of all, there is the man himself, whose reputation and face bears all the scars of sin of any rock star lifestyle. His stare one part terrifying, the other fascinating, but charismatic throughout. He surveys the room like the fall-out from a one man party/yoda-like wisened man. The contours of his face alone make great watching.

But then, this is the man who Gordon Ramsey trained under. Not only that, but style of to which they went their separate ways has all the hallmarks of a great soap opera. This is the man who broke Ramsey, and many others. When the greats of the greats in cooking look up, they see Marco Pierre White, and most of them cringe.

After watching two episodes, it is easy to see why. The rare number of people in the world who are to their art as White is to his are few. Of them, those who should be allowed on the screen are fewer still.

Rarely on TV does one truly witness this kind of mastery: when the concepts that are being broadcast cannot be packaged in soundbites.

At face value in the first show when White says “leave ego out of it”, it sounds like a joke. As one soon to be ejected restaurant customer pointed out, White and ego run pretty parallel. But White’s point was clear to all the celebrity chef contestants at the end of the show: confidence and mastery come with not fighting ego.

The only reason why I find the “celebrity chefs” interesting is their confusion over this man. He destroys them, but they cannot hate him or destroy him back. The most rejected of the candidates become his biggest fans, and most cynical are the most confused.

The comparisons are inevitable, as the two have been paired off each other. Gordon Ramsey makes great TV as his energy and passion reaches down the tube and violates your living room. Marco Pierre White simply shows us why he is the master.

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