There’s a rifle sitting on the back seat beside me, along with a couple of cases of white wine, shooting jackets, bullets, binoculars, Wellington boots and other country clobber. They include Madonna and Guy Ritchie (“very special people in my life”), Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Sylvester Stallone, Mick Jagger, Heather Mills, John Major - for whom he cooked a celebratory lunch during which the ovens exploded - Sir Rocco Forte, Damien Hirst, Antony Worrall Thompson, who introduced him to Mati, and Frankie Dettori, his current business partner with whom he has restaurants called Frankie’s.
It was short and more than a little contrived: “I’ve got to get back to work,” he said. They were together two years, during which time their daughter Lettie was born, to whom Marco remains close. She was a model whom Marco describes as “one of the most exquisite-looking women in the world”. They met at Tramp, the King’s Road nightclub, and were married three weeks later amid much fanfare at the Brompton Oratory in Knightsbridge.
I have never been ambitious, or if I have, it’s only been by default.” This is classic Marco.
Because it is evident, from the day he left school in Leeds without any qualifications and took a job as a kitchen assistant at the Hotel St George in Harrogate on £16 a week, that ambition has been his one constant motivator.
I want to know the truth about his spats with the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Albert Roux, Michael Caine and Raymond Blanc. I remember him telling me once that his favourite film of all time is The Godfather. Despite the things that happened to me, I was given a talent and I believe you have a moral obligation to share it with others.
I want to know if he really did make love to a customer between courses at Harveys, his restaurant in south London, in the late 1980s. I don’t believe I have compromised any friendships in the book.
“No,” says Marco, “but I’m having dinner with him tonight.” And a broad smile stretches across his face. A dash or two of introspection and a few great big dollops of raw honesty appear to have done wonders for the psyche of our once most irascible celebrity chef, who first drew attention to himself by throwing out customers if they asked for salt and pepper.