Marcus Wareing is one of Britain’s most celebrated and recognised chefs. Having won the dessert course on the 2006 series of Great British Menu and continued to feature regularly on the show as a judge and mentor, he sits at the helm of Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. He is father to three children and lives in London.
Q: Did you travel much as a child, either abroad or here in the UK?
My father was a workaholic but he always managed a one or two week break right at the end of the school holidays in the summer. We were always the last of my friends to go away. We generally stayed in Europe, visiting places like Italy, Tenerife, or Majorca. I think I even went to Ibiza and Yugoslavia as it was then.
I remember we once went to Cornwall, but we had a car accident on the way in dad’s yellow Datsun so we didn’t go again!
Q. What was the first travel experience you had that is memorable?
I think flying and the whole airport experience was always special. I still quite like it now.
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
We have had a few holidays in the UK. Devon, Kent and most recently The Isle of White. We have three children and when they were very small it was much easier to stay in the UK. Everything can be thrown into the car. My youngest, Jessie was born in July 2007. We had rented a cottage in Kent for a couple of weeks just two weeks after she was born. It hardly stopped raining the whole time we were there but it was great.
Q: Where was the first holiday you had with a little one in tow? How did it go?
Our first holiday was with Jake, now aged 11. We took him to Mauritius and stayed at St Gerain when he was 3 months old. I seem to remember it went well. Flying is reasonably easy with a child of that age; they just sleep in a bassinette. I do remember feeling nervous about disturbing other people with a crying baby. At the resort it worked well and he even came out with us in the evening because he was small enough to sleep everywhere. Now he is 11 he sometimes comes out with us to eat, but of course he no longer sleeps!
Q: How do you describe the experience of travelling with children generally?
I think it is fairly stressful and involves a huge amount of planning, which normally ends up being down to my wife. We have to plan for eventualities such as earache on the plane, boredom, and hunger. Kids don’t always like plane food so it’s good to have something in reserve. Generally, our holiday trips involve a car journey, the flight and then another car journey, which can be tiring for them. I think the unknown nature of a destination can make it stressful.
Q: Where was your best holiday with your children?
I think one of my favourites is a villa in Europe. For the past couple of years we have stayed in the South of France but this year we went to northeast Spain and loved it. I love cooking with fantastic fresh ingredients. We buy food at local markets and just relax. Although, now that Jake is getting a bit older I think he misses the company of his friends.
Q: And your worst?
We have not really had a worst – although years ago we did stay in a resort near a building site; I found that a bit off-putting. Last year, we stayed in The Bahamas, and the hotel was beautiful but after a while I found the food a little challenging.
Q: Any particularly memorable moments you care to share, either good or bad?
This year we hired a boat (more like a dinghy with motor) and sailed around the coast. It was absolutely fantastic, I think we all enjoyed being captain for the day.
Q. Do you find yourself choosing holiday destinations for your family with local gastronomy in mind?
I don’t look for local gastronomy but I do look for good ingredients and good food. When we stay in a villa I cook most days and we rarely go out, although this year we had been advised to try a couple of local restaurants – I am so pleased we did because they were fantastic.
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children?
A snorkel, sun cream and a pack of cards (for the airport an iPad, DS or similar)
Q: And top tips for travel with kids?
I think a good medical bag is really important. Over the years our kids have experienced bites, cuts, headaches, earaches, stings from anemones and jelly fish, to name but a few.