We talk to Marcus Wilcox, the new owner of Michelin-starred Sienna Restaurant

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd July 2015
He’s just 27 but Marcus Wilcox, former MasterChef contestant, has taken on his own restaurant in Dorset. However Sienna Restaurant in Dorchester comes with the added pressure of already holding a Michelin star. The Staff Canteen popped in for a chat with Marcus to find out about his new menu, being under the gaze of Michelin and being the boss! sienna low resSeating just 15 with a kitchen smaller than most people have at home, until you step into Sienna you can never really appreciate how small it is. But despite its size this restaurant, previously owned by Russell Brown for 12 years, still managed to grab the attention of that well known red book – the Michelin Guide. Now in the hands of Marcus Wilcox and his right hand man Matt Stone, the question is can it remain in that infamous book? “I’m not worried about it at the moment,” said Marcus. “I don’t feel any more pressure and I’m trying not to put that pressure on myself. I’d rather get everything right and then go from there. “I’d prefer to be starting without the star but if I pulled it off obviously I’d be really chuffed. It would be a great achievement to come in and do that.” This is Marcus’ first solo venture, he was previously at the Rose and Crown in Trent, and he’s found the liberating process of devising his own menu very exciting. He opened yesterday and already his dishes have been given the thumbs up by Sienna’s clientele.chicken and liquorice leeks low res He said: “We had really positive feedback. Everyone was really happy which is the main thing! “Creating the menu has been really good fun and I love cooking this style of food. Where I was before was a bit more restricted now I can bring my food to Dorchester and the surrounding area which is great.” Marcus offers a main menu and a tasting menu which is made up of dishes created from local produce. He describes his style as modern British with a twist – although admits the twist can be anything. He explained: “The dishes are simple and uncomplicated, I want the ingredients to speak for themselves and they all have very fresh and clean flavours.” Examples of dishes on offer are pickled mackerel, cucumber, curd and ponzu; chicken, morels, shallots and liquorice leeks; strawberry parfait, coconut and elderflower. matt and the mackerel low resHaving done his time in London Marcus was ready to bring his skills back to Dorset where he grew up. He said: “The time was right to showcase what I have learnt. There are few places in Dorset that are really good to eat and fine dining is a real niche market here. I’m not saying I won’t go back to London but at the moment I’m content with what I’m doing and it’s a nicer life style.” Looking to promote the restaurant as best he can Marcus has had to get to grips with social media, getting a crash course from his girlfriend on twitter. “I keep myself to myself and I prefer to focus on cooking,” explained Marcus. “But I know I need to take advantage of social media – I’m getting better with twitter, I just wish I could write more!” He may say he stays out of the spotlight but he did take part in MasterChef in 2013, reaching the semi finals, and he’d love to give Great British Menu a go in the future. He said: “MasterChef was really good fun but if I could do Great British Menu that would be brilliant!” Marcus will be joined in the kitchen by Matt Stone, he worked at Sienna for Russell Brown before leaving and working at Summer Lodge and Claridge’s. The pair will be working side by side, literally, in Sienna’s tiny kitchen but Marcus says so far it’s been great.pickled mackerel marcus wilcox low res “It is a small kitchen,” he said. “But you don’t have to move much! Everything is to hand so it makes service smoother.” Marcus’ first hurdle is the looming Michelin inspection but after that he wants to focus on offering great food and running a successful business. He said: “I didn’t think I would have my own place at 27 but I thought I’d learnt enough and why not open my own place while I’m young and I have the energy to do it?” By Cara Pilkington @canteencara
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 2nd July 2015

We talk to Marcus Wilcox, the new owner of Michelin-starred Sienna Restaurant