Born to an Italian mother - who passed away when he was a toddler - and a father who was a chef by profession, Leeds-born Marco Pierre White left high school with no qualifications. Setting his sights on a career in the restaurant business, however, he moved to London - aged 16 with just £7.36 in his pocket - to try his luck at breaking into his chosen field.
Journey to Michelin stardom
The plucky teen got a taste for the industry as a commis - an apprentice chef - under legendary French maestros Albert and Michel Roux. Albert, who was responsible for the first restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star in London - Le Gavroche in Mayfair - took the talented youngster under his wing, often describing him as "my little lamb". From there, Marco went on to work in a string of critically acclaimed eateries before branching out by himself with American assistant Mario Batali.
A glittering portfolio of restaurant work followed, and Marco became the first British chef in history to win three Michelin stars for his restaurant, The Restaurant Marco Pierre White, in 1995. However, nine years later he handed back his Michelin stars and hung up his chef's hat, putting his retirement from the kitchen down to a desire to spend more time with children.
Speaking with The Caterer in 2007, Marco opened up about his reasoning: "I gave Michelin inspectors too much respect, and I belittled myself. I had three options: I could be a prisoner of my world and continue to work six days a week I could live a lie and charge high prices and not be behind the stove or I could give my stars back, spend time with my children and re-invent myself... True success is self-discovery. I don't need stars to feel good about myself."
Marco's fiery nature came to light early on, as he regularly ejected customers from his restaurants if he didn't agree with their comments about his food. And after reaching celebrity status, the famous chef was quickly considered the enfant terrible of the British restaurant scene. Marco's personality also later earned him top spot on ITV's Hell's Kitchen in 2007. He returned to the show for the fourth season in 2009 also.
However, speaking with HELLO! in 2015, Marco suggested his real life personality is far away from that which he became known for in the 90s. " I’m naturally an introvert," he said, adding: "I live alone and am happy living alone. I love the countryside, which is where I live and feel most comfortable, and hate being surrounded by herds of people. My favourite pastime is wearing my wellies!"
Marco has been married three times. His first marriage was to Alex McArthur, and lasted from 1988 to 1990. They share one daughter, Letitia. Marco married Lisa Butcher in 1992, but the couple divorced after he had an affair with Matilde Conejero. The chef married Matilde in 2000, and they had two sons and one daughter together. They split some time later.