Cooking with kids

Marcus Wareing is a serious chef. Whether you've watched him on MasterChef, Great British Menu, or in one of his three restaurants, it's a word you'd definitely use to describe him. And he wouldn't disagree.

Marcus Wareing at the dining table with his family
Marcus Wareing at the dining table with his family

“I am serious,” says the 46-year-old. “I’m serious because I need to take my job seriously, and because there is a lot at stake. I take everything I do seriously, but I also now enjoy a lot more and am a little more open-minded.”

It’s perhaps this new, (slightly) more relaxed persona that has brought about his latest release, Marcus At Home, which is fit to burst with recipes that very normal folk can try their hand at.

And it’s all been inspired by family cooking.

“I love watching my family enjoy food that we’ve made together and my wife makes a brilliant lasagne,” says the father-of-three, who’s married to Jane, 45.

“I think now, because the children are more aware of food and are trying more, we as a family are starting to diverge into bigger flavours, spicier food, and just a lot more variety.

“The kids are not so young any more – they love their food and are growing up. It’s really challenged me to do something I’ve never done before, which is focus on food at home.”

Wareing – who describes himself as “driven, precise and friendly” – is a lot more easygoing than you might imagine.

He’s perfectly polished (his shirt is impeccably ironed and his beard is as neatly shaved as you’d expect his Parmesan to be), but calm and keen to put me at ease.

“When I think of ‘home’, it’s all about the kitchen, the family, laughing and arguing,” says the chef, who hails from Southport, but now resides in Wimbledon (he recommends a deli there called Bayley And Sage, if you’re ever in the area, for the “best fresh fruit and produce”).

And now the kids are growing up, cooking together is something that’s happening more often.

“It can be hell at times, but it is mostly fun,” he says, eyes twinkling and a smile spreading across his face. “What annoys me about cooking with children – even though I do love it – is the mess.

“Jess always wants to cook cakes, Archie will get involved in cookery with his mum and he makes a mean salad sandwich.

“But Jake is all about fry-ups, and he hates cleaning up.”

Don’t we all? Though I can imagine this is one Michelin-starred chef who won’t stand for anyone not clearing up after themselves, even if they are his children.