When did you first decide to become a chef?
I started out at the Hotel St George in Harrogate when I was 16. My father, who was also a chef, gave me 50p to catch a bus and go to the hotels.
‘Knock on kitchen doors,’ he said, ‘and ask very politely if they’ll give you a job.’ It almost sounds incredible but that’s how I started.
What’s the concept for the new eatery in Brentwood?
The New York Italian has been inspired by my Italian heritage and love for New York. It will reflect the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple as well as my passion for classic, simple and authentic food. We’re not just selling a meal, it’s a night out with friends, a family lunch. To me the atmosphere, the environment in which we sit, and service, is just as important as the food.
What’s on the menu?
The pizzas are based on the northern Italian style which are crusty and have a thin base. The baby back ribs always deliver. Steak will be popular with couples on a special night out, while the al forno or pasta dishes tend to go down well amongst a group of friends. The main thing is that the service is attentive and not overbearing, the atmosphere is fun and relaxing, and the food is good.
Where does your inspiration come from when creating dishes?
I travel a lot and I’m always picking up new ideas from the places I visit – you’re never too old to learn. Also, when I’m thinking about what dishes to put on a menu, I’m conscious that it needs to make sense.
When people come to the New York Italian, they know what they will be getting. I think that today, menus can sometimes be too complicated. They have to be built around the ability of the team. If there are too many dishes on the menu, then it makes it difficult for the team to do produce the dishes consistently well.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I would say my style is not artistic, but graphic. It’s honest, it’s classical, it’s natural, it’s simple. Over the years, when asked about my culinary philosophy, I have said that Mother Nature is the true artist.
Cooks who do not appreciate that belief cannot be cooks of any significance. What comes from the land or sea must be allowed to be the star on
a plate. Don’t mess with it too much. That applies to any food.
Which is your favourite season?
I wouldn’t pick any one season. I like the rain and wind. I like the seasons and I like putting on my wellies and looking after the animals at my home.
What’s on your festive menu?
Turkey, plum pudding, salmon and mince pies. I like a nice red wine, too.
Marco's New York Italian is now open
Where: Holiday Inn, Brook Street, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5NF
T: 01277 247220
More info & bookings mpwrestaurants.co.uk