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Marcus Wareing: No Pain, No Gain

October 28, 2009

Right, any lingering doubt I had about how success is attained has been cleared up thanks to my interview with chef Marcus Wareing yesterday. Wareing is the best in the biz, the big man on campus,  for no reason whatsoever apart from merit, enhanced through his customary 20 hour work days. He blew off his mentor and business partner Gordon Ramsay last year calling him all sorts of unrepeatable things. It was a PR nightmare. In his own words he was “skint” because of the legal fees of parting with Ramsay. But he wanted to do things his way, goddamnit, and – after a questionable period – he got his own way.

Now, his self-named restaurant at the Berkeley kicks butt. It has two Michelin stars, was vited the best restaurant in London by Harden’s Guides this year and Wareing is there for 10 out of 14 services per week. Which translates to almost all the time. Which is what he believes is required when you put your name above the door. Shame on you, Gordon. It’s worth noting that while I was pulling myself out of bed and shlepping on the Tube to his kitchen, he had already cut up the days’ fresh foie gras and cleaned all the turbot.

Wareing is also exhausted, as you would be never sleeping more than 4 hours a night. He flies into a rage at the thought of entitled young chefs believing they can cut corners, escape hard work and – worst of all – “disrespect the veg” as in vegetables. “You can tell everything about a chef from how he handles a carrot.”

Wareing also likes the pain he feels each morning, forcing himself into the shower after his short night, each one a futile attempt to chip away at an eternally stacked sleep debt. “The pain is my drug” he says, masochistically, but tellingly.

As for the future, Wareing insists that he’s going to make some changes when he turns 40 next year because he’ll “die if I keep this up.” On the other hand, “my goal is for us to be the best restaurant in London, and we’re not yet, by my standards.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how success comes about.  Marginal sleep, shunning any interfering partners, refusing to compromise, and developing an addiction to the pain you inflict on your body by depriving it of rest. The faint of heart need not apply – but then, don’t be expecting any Michelin stars, either.

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