The Michelin star chef chats to Lauren Taylor about savvy food shopping, cooking for one and having fun in the kitchen.

Many know Marcus Wareing best for his measured - often tough - critique on Masterchef: The Professions, delivered with those unnervingly steely blue eyes and leaving experienced chefs wishing they'd never dared serve the acclaimed restaurateur a panna cotta without the correct amount of wobble.

The 49-year-old has spent five years on the BBC show - an appointment he says has been his career highlight - with Gregg Wallace and Monica Galetti. He's also just released his seventh book, runs three restaurants (his flagship at The Berkeley has one Michelin star, after losing its second one earlier this year) and, right now, he's fired up.

"I cannot believe the amount of plastic waste we throw away as a family because of supermarkets. It's insane. It drives me crazy. We have a massive, massive issue here and it really needs stopping and stamping out," he declares. "Don't get me going on plastic!"

He finds kitchen food waste just as intolerable - and there's as little as possible of it in the Wareing household - an issue he's tackling in his new cookbook, Marcus Everyday.

"I hate waste. My father is a fruit and potato merchant, we never threw anything away. As a chef, you're taught to look at produce, to nurture it, to store it well, and you don't throw things away. That's been ingrained in me."

Wareing says he and his wife Jane "talk about it all the time" - about how best to avoid waste and what they can use up at home. "We don't have money to waste," says the chef. "I don't, that's for sure! And I'm certain a lot of people out there in the world don't. So don't waste your food."

It's not always easy though, to be a savvy shopper and organised enough to use absolutely everything in the fridge before there's a tinge of green, as many of us know. "We're not perfect," he concedes. "We still have to work at it."

His new recipes for less food waste include Tuscan-style panzanella, frittata with piquant fruit chutney and sticky banana pudding with rosemary. Even past-its-best milk doesn't need to be chucked; that's right, you can turn it into homemade ricotta (with a radicchio, orange and dill salad). "It's not dangerous," Wareing assures. "It's simple and straight-forward."

He acknowledges that it's "easy for me to say because I'm a chef, and it's something I'm used to. But I want to reflect on the importance of what we purchase when we go out shopping.

"Don't shop on your way home from work, don't shop when you're hungry, because you buy more food than you need and you'll buy food to eat straight away. Look in your fridge before you go, write down what you've got. Preserve things, freeze things.

"If you just do a good shop once a week or once a fortnight, and you've bought things with a bit of thought, you'll always find something to eat."

The new book is made up of chapters that might surprise, one going against the recipe book grain for dishes for two, four or six plus people, and aimed squarely at those cooking only for themselves - like the croque monsieur with homemade bechamel, or butter-roasted cauliflower with capers and parsley.

Wareing is no stranger to cooking for one, particularly during the earlier years after long kitchen shifts (he worked under Gordon Ramsay at Aubergine). "I was either at work or came home and no one was there," he says. "I restricted myself from going anywhere when I was in the height of my growth in the industry, so there were times when I was home alone, and I didn't want to eat rubbish and I certainly didn't want a takeaway.

"There's a lot of people out there that are like that and come home after work and there's no one there," he says, rather refreshingly.

It can be tempting not to make any effort just for yourself, especially during the week, he agrees (there's a section in the book on weekday suppers). "That's the biggest problem. They think, 'Oh well, it's only me, I'll sit in front of the TV and have a convenience meal, or I'll call Deliveroo'.

"Even if you do it once or twice a week, you've got to look after yourself - do it for yourself."

So does he see cooking for yourself as a kind of self-care? "Absolutely, I do. Like going to the hairdressers or buying yourself a new pair of shoes, it's the same thing - we love food, we know we enjoy it. Just make a little bit more effort."

Family man Wareing now splits his time between his main home in Wimbledon, south west London, and a country house in East Sussex with a kitchen garden, where his three children - Jake, 18, Archie, 15, Jessie, 12 - congregate at the weekends, mostly in the kitchen by the sounds of it.

"When you pick things you grow yourself, it's quite extraordinary, it's a level of freshness that no shop of supermarket can give you," he says. And one element of the book is recipes conjured up from what's grown in his patch of garden in East Sussex; think crispy courgettes with goats' cheese and lavender honey, or roasted Jerusalem artichokes with prunes, lentils and sour cream.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, his children sound pretty accomplished in the kitchen too.

"They can all cut, chop, wash up, stack a dishwasher, they can make cakes, fry a steak, make a steak sandwich, cook an English breakfast, make scrambled egg, you name it! It's because I pull them into the kitchen, and my wife certainly does, she wants to make sure that when our kids leave home, they can cook."

Who's the head chef at home? "Of course Jane's the head chef!" he says with a laugh. "No, we're a team, when I close the door I'm not a chef in a restaurant, there's no hierarchy when I cook, I just have fun."

Although, he adds: "I might criticise someone for getting something wrong."

That sounds more like the Marcus Wareing we know.

Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, photography by Susan Bell, is published by HarperCollins, priced £20. Available now.


Who doesn't love a toastie?

When a Michelin star chef makes a sandwich, don't expect it to be ordinary. This is inspired by Marcus Wareing's travels in France, and is one of his many new recipes designed for when you're home alone but still want to treat yourself.


(serves 1)

50g Gruyere cheese, grated

2 slices of sourdough

3-4 slices of prosciutto

10g butter

For the bechamel:

100ml milk

1tsp thyme leaves

10g butter

1tbsp plain flour

1/2tsp Dijon mustard

1tsp wholegrain mustard

50g Cheddar cheese, grated

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


(Prep time: under 10 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes)

1. Start by making the bechamel. Put the milk and thyme into a small saucepan. Gently bring to a simmer over low heat. Melt the butter in another small saucepan then add the flour, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for about one minute to get rid of the floury taste, but avoid letting it brown. Gradually whisk in half of the hot milk and stir quickly to combine. Add the remaining milk and cook for a further five minutes over low heat, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat, add the mustards and cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

3. Place the grated Gruyere on one slice of the sourdough then top with the prosciutto. Finish with the bechamel then top with the other slice of sourdough. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the butter then carefully add the sandwich and toast it for three to five minutes. Gently turn the sandwich over and brown the other side for another three to five minutes.

4. Transfer to a piece of baking parchment on a baking tray and bake in the oven for four to five minutes, until the cheese has melted.


Ingredients (Serves 4)

300g fresh or stale bread, cut into thick slices

6 medium overripe tomatoes

100ml tomato juice from a carton

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

4tbsp balsamic vinegar

100ml olive oil

1tsp Dijon mustard

2tbsp capers in brine, plus 1tsp caper brine

1 red onion, thinly sliced

50g pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch of basil, leaves roughly chopped

1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


(Prep time: 15 minutes, plus straining and soaking. Cooking time: 10 minutes)

1. If you’re using fresh bread, preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 4, line a baking tray with baking parchment and lay out the bread slices in one layer.

Bake for 10 minutes then remove from the oven.

2. While the bread is baking, cut the tomatoes into small wedges.

Toss them in salt then place them in a colander set over a bowl.

Set aside for 20 minutes, reserving the juice.

3. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl.

4. Add the tomato juice, the garlic, two tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and 50ml of the olive oil to the fresh tomato juice in the bowl.

Mix together and season well with salt and pepper.

5. Cut the bread into 2cm dice and place in a shallow dish large enough to fit the bread in a single layer.

Pour the tomato juice mix over the top and leave to sit for 20 minutes.

6. Mix the remaining balsamic vinegar and olive oil together.

Add the mustard and caper brine and season with salt and pepper.

7. Add the soaked bread, red onion, capers, olives and herbs to the tomatoes and gently mix together with the dressing.

Serve immediately.


(Serves 8)

140g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

Pinch of sea salt

90g cold butter, cubed

40g caster sugar

1 egg, beaten, plus 1 egg yolk

300ml double cream

100ml milk

1/2 bunch of thyme

400g milk chocolate, broken into pieces or roughly chopped

3 eggs

10g freeze-dried raspberry pieces

1tsp cocoa powder, to serve

1. To make the pastry, rub together the flour, sea salt and cold butter in a bowl until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar and gradually add the beaten egg to form a soft, pliable dough ). Gently form the pastry into a ball, flatten it, then wrap it in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Roll it out to a 4mmthick circle. Use it to line a 21-2cm, high-sided, loosebottomed tart tin, leaving a little excess pastry to hang over the edges. Return to the fridge for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/ gas 7.

4. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans.

Sit the tart case on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

5. While the tart case is baking, start making the filling. Put the double cream, milk and thyme in a medium saucepan, and simmer for five minutes.set aside to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain into a clean saucepan, discarding the thyme and simmer.

6. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream and milk over the top. Cover and leave to sit for five minutes. Add the eggs and, using a stick blender, mix until well combined. Pass through a fine sieve into a jug.

7. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/120°C fan/gas 1. Remove the oven tray slightly from the oven.

With the tart case in the oven, pour the chocolate mix into the shell. Sprinkle the raspberry pieces on top and, using a spoon, swirl to distribute evenly.

8. Bake for 40-45 minutes and leave to cool. Dust with the cocoa powder to serve.Slice with hot knife.