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The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness and the Making of a Great Chef

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  2,862 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
What do Mario Batali, Heston Blumenthal, and Gordon Ramsay have in common? Answer: They all survived tours of duty in the kitchen of Marco Pierre White. In the UK, White's brilliant cooking and high-wattage antics have made him a legend: the first British chef (and the youngest chef anywhere) to win three Michelin stars, a chain-smoking, pot-throwing, multiply married culi ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2006)
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Jeffrey Keeten
May 24, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking
”And so I took my first step along the long, bully-laden, work obsessed, sleep-deprived, nicotine- and caffeine-fueled, passionate, hot and winding road that would end with three Michelin stars.”

 photo Marco20Pierre20White_zpslumewfk2.jpg

I don’t cook, but oddly enough I enjoy reading about chefs and the skillet laden road they travel to create food that makes their customers close their eyes and raise their hands to the food gods in supplication.

It is really all Anthony Bourdain’s fault. I read Kitchen Confidential after catching his s
Jun 22, 2008 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
OOooh, he's such a nasty boy. I think I might like to have him cook for me, but I wouldn't want to know him in any other context. I wouldn't want to be his wife and I sure as hell wouldn't want to work for him.

I understand that to some degree a mercurial, self-confident demeanor is a job requirement for being a Michelin-3-star-caliber chef but White comes off as a 5-star jerk. He's very quick to quote positive reviews and people who bolster his image as a sex-god Mick-Jagger-of-the-kitchen. I da
Dec 05, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
By the end of this book, Marco is neither a devil nor in the kitchen, but you do understand why he once was both. Undeniably a difficult character, the autobiography goes some way to explaining the drive and motivations behind the man and I did wonder if a couple of therapy sessions had added to some of the more reflective and self-analytical passages. On the other hand, selective amnesia is often also in evidence especially when concerning business or personal relationships, although he does re ...more
Shahine Ardeshir
May 12, 2013 Shahine Ardeshir rated it liked it
Silly as it sounds, I started reading this book after watching Marco Pierre White in action on Masterchef Professionals. I know precious little about fine dining, but I liked the man from what I saw, and thought that a book about his life would be interesting.

I was half-right.

The book begins beautifully. In fact, the first half was one of the best autobiographies I’d read - about how a young boy from very humble beginnings started a life and built a career in the culinary scene in England. It w
3.5 Wow, this is a tough one to rate. On the one hand, it's an autobiography (ghostwritten) of a charismatic, narcissistic, volatile, wildly-talented chef. On the other hand, it's an autobiography of a charismatic, narcissistic, volatile, wildly-talented chef. The story is entertaining, mostly compelling, and there's a good deal of culinary and kitchen life. But the further you read, the more you notice how much has been left out and how just about every anecdote comes padded in justification, r ...more
Feb 17, 2013 Ms.pegasus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in haute cuisine; and anglophiles
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: Jonathan Lin of Goodreads
You've achieved your life's dream at age 33. Now what? It's a problem few of us even think about, let alone encounter. It's the problem Chef Marco White faced in 1995. The choices he made at that point were, like his life, unusual and courageous.

DEVIL IN THE KITCHEN is Marco White's memoir. It's the story of a boy from a financially strapped working class home in Leeds. It chronicles the distress of a boy who lost his mother at age 6, who feared the loss of his father from terminal cancer four y
Jan 08, 2013 ^ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foodies and budding commercial chefs
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book; in one part a fascinatingly rewarding reminiscence of 1980s London; and in another a raw insight into what it took to succeed, both financially and socially, in the restaurant trade. James Steen (the ghost-writer) has done such a superb job here that found myself wishing that I could now read his book of how he wrote this book. I can’t believe that he could have had an easy time of it.

Good 1980s restaurant food WAS memorable, though mainly because of the
Dec 27, 2010 Kid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. . .it was unpretentious, well-crafted and interesting. If this sounds like I'm damning it with faint praise I kinda am. . .

Marco White is the self-described "first celebrity chef" aka "rock star chef" - he made great sacrifices to gain three Michelin Guide stars for one of his restaurants and is clearly passionate about high cuisine. It comes across and is compelling. At the end of the day this did not transcend the genre. . .i.e. a memoir by someone at the top of their field.
Jan 29, 2017 Brigham rated it it was ok
You may think that behind this mad chef is an interesting story of a misunderstood genius but, sadly, that is not the case. I'd like to eat at one of his restaurants and may find the food better than the writing. The best thing about this book is the picture on the cover.
From what I've read, classic French cooking—the kind Marco Pierre White excels in—seems filled with confections. Hillocks of puff pastry or shivering gelees sheltering stronger stuff inside: fish, eggs, puddings of blood or brain.

In a way, The Devil in the Kitchen is like those dishes: under the puff pastry of celebrity memoir lurks the tale of a brutally ambitious chef, wanting nothing in life but his own three Michelin star restaurant. Hands down the best parts of this book are when White talk
Mar 19, 2008 Shelly rated it liked it
Recommends it for: foodies
Shelves: book-club-pick
Marco Pierre White's story is interesting. I'm not a "foodie", but I still enjoyed it. The writing style was kind of rough at times, extremely conversational and would sometimes jump from one topic to the next without much transition (surprised he had a ghostwriter), but all in all it was an entertaining read.
White, like most chefs, is a hothead. His infamous temper was apparently the talk of London's restaurant world during his heyday. Although to me he seems to go overboard at some times--like
Dec 19, 2008 Jill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food-literature
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential - a behind the scenes look into a chef's life - was what got me hooked on food literature. Although Bourdain and White are different in many ways (White's a three starred Michelin chef and he stresses that he never did drugs nor did he binge on alcohol), the Devil in the Kitchen reminded me of Bourdain's book in many ways: the hard scrabble to the top, their accounts of verbal exchanges in the kitchen with the liberal use of foul language, and ultimately, ...more
Mar 12, 2008 Firecooked rated it it was ok
Shelves: foodie-books
Ok, second book in a row that I was just glad to get to then end! The subtitle of The Devil in the Kitchen is Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of Great Chef… I think the more accurate title would have been “Being a great chef is an excuse for sex, pain, and madness”. The autobiography covers Marco White’s (big name chef in Britain) life starting as a child with the early loss of his mother, through to retiring young after receiving the highest Michelin accolades possible. You kind of get a “th ...more
Sep 26, 2016 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So basically, I'm a huge MPW fan. So there wasn't much chance of me not liking this memoir. That being said, there is a lot to like in it. MPW's story endears him to you from the outset, when he begins his tale as a six year old boy who has just lost his mother. Throughout the book, it becomes clear that this has, and continues to have a significant impact on him. While at points, he does gloss over some less savoury moments in his life, for the most part, MPW is pretty upfront about his own bad ...more
Jackie C
Jun 18, 2008 Jackie C rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chefs and therapists!
Marco Pierre White has had an illustrious career for sure, but he's no Anthony Bourdain. At least Tony has respect for the cultures of the world and sees what an as* he has been.

I wish Marco well but thought this was just another retrospective of a self-absorbed, workaholic madman who achieved high culinary honors by manipulating, terrifying, insulting, abusing, and ignoring anyone who should have mattered to him (except his wife Mati, who must be a saint or the ultimate masochist).

I'm glad to
Jim George
Marco is undoubtedly a brilliant chef, his accolades and accomplishments proceed him in the culinary world of fine food. As a person; he is arrogant, pompous, self centered, and extremely easy to become disgusted with. It seems as though he left a bigger wake in life as a personality who famously belittled and badgered every friend, lover, family member, peer, acquaintance, customer, and business associate he ever dealt with. If there is such a thing as karma, he is in for a rude awakening. I wo ...more
Jul 27, 2012 Palma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: put-aside
I love to read about what drives ceratin people to perfection and temperments.

This is not a cook book but a biography that I find very honest. It tells of how he grew up and how people used to work really hard at young ages, of growing up and actually living in the outside world of simple pleasures of fishing, playing in mud, catching tadpoles etc

I like this man's honestly and directness. I may not agree with his conduct in a kitchen ,though!
I find it pretty disappointing that this great chef,
Jun 26, 2008 Nathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although tempered with brief instances of enticing narration, the book falls very short of its potential. White has a reputation for having a frenetic, perfectionist attitude, yet very little of either comes across in his own book. I think a proper biographer, and not the subject, would have a far more equitable, and interesting, story to tell.
Juliet Slemming
I was hoping for more "Kitchen Confidential".. this was allll about the three stars Marco has won, did I mention he has three stars? if he mentioned it once he mentioned it 100 times... how many stars? 3 I think. Too long and just not funny enough.
Jul 28, 2016 Lamar rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"I don't know if we can film in [Marco's kitchen]," the producer said. "War zones are less dangerous."
Alex Kalim
Jul 05, 2011 Alex Kalim rated it liked it
As the original enfant terrible of the modern British cooking scene, Marco Pierre White (MPW) has earned both the accolades of his colleagues and the admonition of his critics. This memoir, which vacillates between raw candor and over softened prose, is an interesting - if somewhat pedantic - recollection of a life spent in pursuit of the ultimate accolade of his profession - the coveted three Michelin stars.

MPW is thorough in dissecting and explaining some aspects of his development - he clear
Mar 08, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I know shit about food. I absolutely know nothing. I couldn't cook to save my life, and I wouldn't cook even if I could. I'm just not interested.

But I am one of those people who stared at Gordon Ramsay in awe when he first made his appearance on TV. I, like many people, wondered why on earth was he such a prick, why on earth did people tolerate him and if his food was as good as he claimed it to be. I watched Kitchen Nightmares and The F Word both filled with curiosity and thoroughly entertained
May 29, 2007 Dan rated it it was ok
This is the tell-all story of Marco Pierre White--the first English chef to win three Michelin stars, no small feat in the francophile scene of haute cuisine. The story is suitably inspiring. White grew up motherless in a Leeds council flat, dropped out of high school, and quickly earned an apprenticeship in the school of hard knocks. As chefs do, he made his way around the finest restaurants of London and was eventually asked to head a new venture called Harveys, where he made his name.

Sean Keenan
Dec 18, 2016 Sean Keenan rated it it was amazing
I literally laughed out loud throughout many parts of this book. If you've read Anthony Bourdain's books then give this a shot. i think you will like it
Martie Nees Record
Aug 02, 2016 Martie Nees Record rated it liked it
If you don’t know who Marco Pierre White is you will be meeting a volatile, narcissistic, and in his youth, simply gorgeous, bad boy chef. This autobiography was written with a ghost writer, which makes sense as the author left school at the age of sixteen. Let me clarify he left conventional school in his teens. He did attend many years of boot camp-like training in numerous professional kitchens. This type of brutal schooling helped prepare him to become the first three star Michelin British c ...more
Aug 02, 2011 PC rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know absolutely nothing about Marco Pierre White, and I picked up this book solely on its virtue of being on the same shelf as _Blood, Bones, and Butter_ and, well, the cover photograph. Lest you mistake the intensity in this guy's eyes for another marketing ploy (like the awful byline of "sex, pain, madness, and the makings of a great chef,"), take it instead as the ultimate representation of White at his best. The book shines when he talks about his utter drive for perfection, his addiction ...more
Jun 29, 2012 Sam rated it liked it
I hadn't heard of Marco before reading this book. Reading books about famous chefs is my hobby. Marco definitely has the credentials. He is the only British Chef to have earned 3 Michellin stars. He came from humble beginnings and has built a restaurant empire in England. He was also a mentor to some great famous chefs, most notably, Gordon Ramsey. He's definitely someone to know in the culinary world.

As for the literary aspect of this book, I think the writing could have been better. Also, Mar
Girl from Mumbai
For a book lover, there is no greater joy than finding a book that engages you and keeps you hooked till the last page. “The Devil in the Kitchen” an autobiography of the original legend of the British kitchen “Marco Pierre White” was that book for me.It is a fabulous insight into the mind of a man who became the youngest chef in Britain to win 3 Michelin stars by the age of 33, without any formal training. It is amazing to read how passion can drive people to achieve greatness and in that quest ...more
I echo other people's criticisms of this book in that I agree that White is a smarmy name dropper, but that is not what bothered me the most about this book. I guess I went in with the wrong expectations... I wanted to read a book about someone passionate about food, who loves eating good food and making good food with the antics and hard-ass-ness just incidental to that. Y'know, kind of like Anthony Bourdain's book, which at the time I read it I didn't find it all that fantastic. However, at le ...more
Feb 01, 2010 Penny rated it liked it
Snagged off the cookbook shelf at work as something to read while devouring my post-shift lunch, I am sucked in. White has a rep for being the first "bad boy chef" in the public eye (which personally I find lame if you know any chefs) however he proves an interesting study so far. Written without the help of an editor as far as I can tell, it requires the ability to skip from major event to major event by the simple use of a paragraph change - a device in keeping with his frantic yet focused kit ...more
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on the book 1 2 Mar 09, 2015 12:38PM  
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