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Top chef Marco returns to "spiritual home" in Ilkley
Marco Pierre White
Marco Pierre White is returning to his restaurant roots in Ilkley

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has returned to his gastronomic roots, becoming a partner in the Ilkley restaurant where he started out.

The Michelin starred chef began his career by training at Ilkley's Box Tree restaurant in the late 1970s.

Describing the restaurant as his "spiritual home", he said he wanted to see it win two Michelin stars again.

He said: "Our dream is to give her the respect she deserves and show her the love that she needs."

It was in May 1979 that the young Marco Pierre White, who was born in Leeds, first started work at the Ilkley restaurant - marking the beginning of what would turn out to be a stratospheric career.

Incredibly magical

White said the restaurant was a special place to start out.

He explained: "I have always regarded it as my spiritual home. It was without doubt the most famous restaurant in Britain.

"It was run by two gentlemen, Malcolm Reid and Colin Long. What they created was something incredibly magical, something really special.

"It was extraordinary. She was my first love. She was the most magical establishment I've ever walked into."

"What Mr Reid and Mr Long created was enormous within the world of gastronomy.

"In those days there were only four restaurants in Britain with two stars, three in London and one in Yorkshire."

White said that his time in Ilkley was the most important of his career and set him on the road to fame as a celebrity chef.

He went on to work under top names such as Albert and Michel Roux and Raymond Blanc before becoming one of the biggest names in the restaurant world in his own right.

Despite this, he said his experiences in West Yorkshire were always the most important.

He said: "All the dreams I had as a young man were borne out of the Box Tree.

"It ignited something within me which guided me to realising my dreams when I was 33-years-old and had three Michelin stars."

Two stars

Going into partnership with Box Tree owners, husband and wife team Simon and Rena Gueller, Marco Pierre White said he had high hopes for the restaurant's future.

He explained: "My vision is to take it back to two stars in the Michelin Guide.

"That's our dream, to take it back to where it was all those years ago.

I tend to have love affairs with restaurants, with hotels, and with my industry.

Marco Pierre White

"To be given the opportunity to have a slice of the cake, my spiritual home, and to realise the dream of several people is an honour."

And White admitted that it was an emotional experience to be coming back home to West Yorkshire.

He said: "Most things I do are emotional. I get involved.

"I tend to have love affairs with restaurants, with hotels, and with my industry.

"There's only one thing within our industry that never dates and that is romance."

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