If there's one thing that Marco Pierre White is known for, it's a single-minded pursuit of high standards. He remains the youngest chef in history to earn three Michelin stars and was the first Brit ever to do so. But now, the celebrated chef is facing the music of a rating system of far lesser repute.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Marco's New York Italian London Bloomsbury in the Mercure Hotel has earned a rating of two out of a possible five on the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) scale, a finding it says was initially exposed in an investigation by Channel 4's Tricks of the Restaurant Trade TV show.
The restaurant earned a "very good" rating for "hygienic food handling" and "good" for "management of food safety," the FSA determined, but when it came to the "cleanliness and condition of facilities and building (including having appropriate layout, ventilation, hand washing facilities, and pest control) to enable good food hygiene" category, the verdict was "improvement necessary"—two words rarely associated with the name on the door.
So, how does a restaurant with such pedigree go abruptly from a "5" to a "2" in the eyes of the FSA? According to the head chef of Marco's New York Italian London Bloomsbury, who spoke to the Telegraph, the "2/5" hygiene score was caused by "decorative" plants that had been set up in the restaurant around the time of the inspection, which took place on April 20, 2017.
"The plants attracted an abundance of fruit flies, he said, which were noticed by a FSA inspector during a visit three months ago," the article says. "The plants have now been removed and another inspection is being arranged shortly with the hope of regaining a higher rating."
As the Telegraph points out, White's younger nemesis Gordon Ramsay has also received a rating of 2/5 at his Maze restaurant due to a cockroach infestation in 2015, while Ramsay's younger nemesis Marcus Wareing scored a 1/5 at his Berkeley Hotel restaurant in 2013, so while its score may sound harrowing, White's restaurant group seems to be in good (and familiar) company.
Marco's New York Italian, which describes itself as "a mixture of Italian-inspired dishes and American classics, serving everything from fresh pasta, handmade pizza, and ribs to our best-selling New York style cheesecake," is a chain of a dozen restaurants owned by Marco Pierre White Restaurants and has typically done well during previous FSA inspections. MUNCHIES reached out to Marco Pierre White Restaurants for comment on the rating but has not yet received a response.
"The top rating of '5' means that the business was found to have 'very good' hygiene standards," the FSA states on their website. "Any business should be able to reach this top rating."
In other words, it's not exactly a Michelin level of perfection that the FSA is looking for.