Marcus Wareing, the Michelin-starred chef behind some of the most well regarded restaurants in UK is all about his family these days. With Father’s Day coming up, we spoke to the busy father of three to get a sense of how he balances it all, and ask his advice for younger chefs on how to reach their dreams of being a restaurateur.
Do you usually work or spend time with your family on Father’s Day?
I spend time with my family. If Father’s Day was mid-week I would struggle to be able to spend it with the kids every year; however, because it’s on a Sunday, I get to enjoy it with them.
Do your restaurants serve any special menus that day?
Marcus isn’t open on Sunday but my other two restaurants, The Gilbert Scott and Tredwells, are. We don’t offer special Father’s Day menus, we like to keep them as is, but the two restaurants are open all day, from lunch all the way through the afternoon to dinner. The Sunday Roast menus at The Gilbert Scott and Tredwells are always best-sellers on Father’s Day; 3-courses for £35 and £28 respectively, washed down with a lovely bottle of red. What father wouldn’t enjoy that?!
Can you talk a little bit about how you balance being a dad and a chef?
It’s different now to when the kids were first born. My eldest, Jake, is 15, when he was born I was working all hours at Pétrus, and continued to do so through the subsequent arrivals of Archie and then Jessie. This was the time Pétrus moved into The Berkeley and I was striving for my second Michelin star. Back then being a chef came first, and family second. It’s tough to say that but it’s the truth. My wife knew this was the reality of marrying me and how it would be starting a family. Fortunately, things are very different now; my family comes first. I have great teams running each of the restaurants, both front and back of house, many of whom have been with me for years. So, while I’m in the restaurants most weekdays, my weekends and school holidays can be freed up. Being able to balance being a Dad and a chef, is all about being able to manage your time very well, to ensure maximum time and effort is dedicated to both causes. And being able to spend Father’s Day with my family does make it much more enjoyable.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a chef?
When I was around 14 or 15. I started at Southport College, studying catering when I was 15. Looking at the young of today it seems that many don’t know what they want to do in life. I realise now how lucky I was to have such a clear direction at a young age.
What advice do you have for aspiring restaurateurs?
First, be patient. Second, do your groundwork. Third, listen to as many people as possible and fourth, be prepared to work hard.
If you could talk to yourself when you were starting your career, what would you tell yourself?
I became a head chef when I was 25, and at that point any kind of training in people management was non-existent. I might have known how to run a kitchen but I had zero experience in managing a team. I worked hard and got through it but if I could give some advice to my younger self, it would be to focus more on people management in those early years.
What are the biggest challenges of running successful restaurants?
You have to be “industry-wise”. You need to know what’s going on EVERYWHERE and ensure that you’re always keeping ahead of the industry, especially in London, because there are always hundreds of restaurants (and people) nipping at your heels.