This sounds like a recipe for marital strife...
SF: We’ve been working side by side for a long time. It feels completely natural to us. It’s a similar job to what we were both doing before, only with more control. It’s an amazing opportunity to have this early on in our careers.
How do you ensure a separation between your work life and personal life?
MF: We have a rule about not discussing work stuff outside work, but Shauna doesn’t always stick to it.
SF: I’m the talker in the relationship.
MF: I think we’re both pretty good at switching off from work.
SF: The day we’re guaranteed off is Sunday. We tend to eat out and catch up with friends.
And what about time apart?
SF: We’ll each take some of the quieter services off. For the foreseeable future, the idea is that one of us is always here. Working this closely is nice. It might sound like we spend an awful lot of time together, but if we worked for different restaurants we’d hardly ever see each other.
Will you both run the pass at the same time?
MF: Yes. Nearly always on busy services.
SF: Running the pass with Mark is the aspect of the job I enjoy the most. We do that really well.
MF: We’re both working on menu development, with Shauna taking the lead on pastry, which she is very good at. Shauna will also do a lot of work on recruitment and liaising with the front-of-house team.
SF: With the restaurant now headed by two chefs, we need to ensure unity between kitchen and front of house. We need to make sure the dining room team know that we respect their ideas and acknowledge their hard work. It’s also very important for chefs to understand how the dining room works.
How involved is Marcus in the restaurant these days?
SF: Very. Marcus is not on the rota, but he’s in the restaurant all the time and is hugely supportive.
MF: It’s a massive kitchen and I’m happy to say we’re busy at the moment so it needs three people leading it on a busy service. The chef’s table takes one senior chef to run it, sometimes that’s Marcus, sometimes that’s Shauna and sometimes that’s me.
Would you like to run your own business one day ?
SF: Yes we would. Marcus has given us a platform with no real risk and a lot of support but the plan, ultimately, is for us to do our own thing. That’s what we’re working towards. But it’s a long way off.
We hear you met at the restaurant ...
SF: Yes. I came to the restaurant (then Petrus) from Ireland as part of my degree in hospitality and business management with culinary arts about 10 years ago. I actually ended up interviewing Mark for my dissertation, which is a bit odd.
So did your eyes meet across the pass?
MF: It wasn’t quite like that. We got to know each other while working really hard in the kitchen together and started spending more and more time with each other outside work.
You’ve been with Marcus Wareing Restaurants for some time now...
MF: I started working with Marcus soon after I finished my training at Westminster Kingsway. It’s a long time to spend with one chef but there have been a lot of changes at the restaurant, which has kept things interesting. I worked my way up from commis chef to head chef (a feat he achieved at 27). I was here when Marcus was running it for Gordon Ramsay as Petrus, when it changed to Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley and, more recently, when it became Marcus.
We understand the menu is changing...
SF: Yes, but not dramatically. It’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing. Marcus is always pushing us to move things forward and to spend more time on development. We’ll continue to take inspiration from our suppliers. We’re also looking at introducing more unexpected elements such as preparing dishes tableside.
MF: We’re not The Fat Duck, but we are looking at ways to make a meal here more memorable. For example, the other night we served a couple celebrating their anniversary a dessert on the pass. We want people to leave this restaurant with memories and a massive smile on their face.
SF: Since reopening as Marcus, there’s a big push to create a more informal, relaxed atmosphere. It’s totally different to how it used to be. There’s a real buzz to the dining room. Marcus wants it to feel like an extension of his living room.