At the recently held ‘World On a Plate’ Event in Delhi, Chef Marco Pierre who was the youngest chef to bag three Michelin Stars at the age of 33, talked to Restaurant India about his ideas on elimination of hunger, the differences between artists, workers and chefs, and why working in a team is key to successfully running a restaurant business.
How are you feeling in India?
When I first arrived in Mumbai, the emotional impact from the visuals was enormous. It really penetrated me. I think India is without a question, the most magical country I have visited so far and I'm not saying that because I'm here. I feel more comfortable in India with the people here than the people that I do in my own country. The humidity is extraordinary. The generosity and kindness here is what I like. And it's a different mental approach, which gives you great insight into the culture.
We can see that you are wearing a badge saying ‘I pledge to fight hunger’. Recently India ranked poor in the global hunger index. What do you have to say about that and how are you fighting this in your own capability?
I think really what you have to do is first accept the complication of the problem. Once you understand the problem and the size of the problem, then you can start to find a solution. Today I saw families living under the bridges. The emotion that I felt was the guilt and the privileges that I've been given and I think everybody in this world exposes themselves to it because the one thing it does immediately gives you value and appreciation.
I think the key is creating opportunities. It is important for them to elevate themselves from the opportunities. I think it's not just as simple as just giving food, you have to give an opportunity. Last night I was watching the news and it was about an organization in Africa that helps people by giving them different opportunities as they don’t go to them to ask for food or anything because they want to earn money to buy their own food. The organization helps them build their self esteem. Therefore, I believe it is imperative for them to learn some skills, build their self esteem, earn their own money and have their future.
Also read: https://www.restaurantindia.in/article/michelin-star-chef-atul-kocchar-launches-a-venture-with-restauranter-vishal-anand.13544
"I had Dyspraxia. My self-esteem was very low. So, I spoke with my fingers."
Earlier you said that “Chefs are not geniuses are artists but they are just workers,” Do you see the change as chefs across the world are now being recognized?
Firstly, a man being a man, when I use the word man I mean both the sexes are labourers if they work with their hands and brain. However, a man who works with his hands, brain and heart is an artist. There is a difference between an artist and a genius. To be called a genius, you have to take your art to another level. Cooking is a philosophy, it's not a recipe. The more you do to do, the more you're taking away from it.
You also said that your work is a painkiller for you if you could elaborate that too?
When you suffer misfortune and tragedy as a child, your internal pain is enormous. I hid that in my work. I had Dyspraxia. My self-esteem was very low. So, I spoke with my fingers.
You're both a restaurateur and a chef. How do you manage to bridge the gap between these two? How difficult is it to manage both of these things?
You employ people to do the jobs you don't want to do or you come and do it. You have to respect that everyone has different talents and when you have a company, it's about merging those individual talents together.
The key to success is inspiring the team you have. I never won three Michelin stars. The team behind me, those young women and young men, they won not me. They were the orchestra and created the symphony. I was just a conductor and a composer. You have to let people believe in your vision and your dream.