The opening of a new restaurant in Bristol is always exciting and the involvement of a celebrity name certainly adds that certain frisson.Â The latest savvy chef to secure a West outpost is Marco Pierre White, of Hell’s Kitchen fame. He was trained by Albert Roux at Le Gavroche, was employed by Michael Caine and responsible for the training of firebrand Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, and holds many accolades, including being the youngest chef to win three Michelin stars.
So when the refurbished DoubleTree by Hilton Bristol South (it’ll always be Cadbury House to you and me, mind) looked for a chef to helm the new Steakhouse Bar & Grill, they donned the oven gloves and opted for fiery Pierre White.
After all, as Group General Manager Mark Hands says: “Why have Gordon or Heston when you can have the guy who trained them?”
But is Mr White’s imposing reputation really a sign of his fiery personality, or a guise created by media and production companies to distinguish what can be a crowded market of ‘celebrity chefs’?
Certainly, at the VIP opening and press conference of the Steakhouse, Mr White was less tiger, more pussycat.
He happily answered journalists’ questions, signed copies of his new book Marco Made Easy and was polite to the point of flirtatious.
So why a Steakhouse? And why Bristol?
“I’m well aquainted with Somerset, I spend a lot of time here,” Mr White said. “With the relaunch of the DoubleTree Hilton, here was a real opportunity to make a mark in greater Bristol.”
The menu was certainly put together by someone with a firm understanding of West country suppliers. Butcombe ale, Gaymers and Thatchers ciders, seafood and cheese from Devon and Cornwall.
Is he a figurehead or really involved in the day-to-day running of the restaurant? “When your name is above the door, you have a responsibility,” he says passionately. “I will spend as much time as possible here.
“Not only that but I will ensure the Steakhouse uses local ingredients and employs local people, and contributes to the local economy.
“We spent a lot of time pre-launch seeking out the best local ingredients. At the moment the beef comes from Scotland but that’s only because I couldn’t guarantee consistency from any local supplier. That’s something we’ll be reviewing at a later date.”
The restaurant promises the buzz and atmosphere of the London Steakhouses, with quality ingredients and fine dining. “Steak is a special occasion food,” says Mr White. “Traditional steak, chicken, fish… it’s a privilege.”
And even with the inevitable hotel mark-up, it’s an affordable privilege, if only for birthdays and anniversaries. Fish and chips costs £12.50, steaks range from £19.50 to £28 for a 16oz T-Bone. The three-course Christmas set menu is £20.50 for lunch, £25 for dinner.
Mr Hands added: “The launch was a great success and it’s great to be open. For Marco one of the most important aspects of any restaurant is the welcome on arrival, the environment customers sit in and the service that they’re given so we’ve been careful to make sure the new restaurant reflects that.”
So how will Marco Pierre White fit running his Steakhouse empire around his television and publishing commitments? Does he ever have time to relax?
“My dear, what I do is not a job, it’s a way of life for me.”
He may not be the firebrand you’d expect, but Marco Pierre White doesn’t disappoint. Clearly a man who loves cooking, loves steak and loves the West country. Now that’s my kind of guy.
For further information visit www.mpwsteakhousebristol.co.uk
For further information on Doubletree by Hilton, Bristol South, Cadbury House call 01934 834343 or visit www.cadburyhouse.com