How did you discover your passion for the Culinary Arts?
I have always loved to cook and eat since I was a young kid and I have a great appreciation for trying new things, discovering new flavours and textures. My earliest memories of cooking are being with my grandmother who was a great cook, I would always stay by her side and watch her cook. The "Churrasco" (Brazilian barbeque) has always been a part of my life too, the barbeque is deeply ingrained in Brazilian culture, I have always loved to watch the fire and hear the sound of the grilling. It wasn't until I started working in a professional kitchen that I realised cuisine was more than curiosity or more than a job, it was my passion.
What was your experience like at Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand and what did you take away with you?
For me, the best thing about studying at Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand was the meticulous training, extensive knowledge learned from the cuisine chefs and the highest quality equipment and products we worked with. To be a good cook you must have a good base of skills; for example, how to break apart a chicken, how to start a sauce, how to behave and act in a professional environment. I feel these things were very present everyday at school and ingrained into us. Tell us about your culinary journey so far?
When I started at Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand I was very motivated, and wanted to learn from the best, having mentors like Chef Francis and Paul was great because they were always pushing us to do our best. I was also lucky enough to get the opportunity to work at QT Wellington’s Hippopotamus Restaurant, where I stayed for a year.
It was always a goal of mine to go to France, I had this idea of French cuisine, palaces, Michelin star restaurants. The French are known for having a strong culinary culture and are very proud of it. I wanted to go see for myself and moved to France, I didn't speak any French so the beginning was hard - being a foreigner in a French kitchen is a challenge!
Left: foraged mushroom. Right: poached oyster with sake, vanilla and pears. I looked for the best restaurants and the best chefs I could find in Bordeaux and eventually landed a job at La Cité du Vin, considered a must-visit destination for those who love wine. After a few months, I was promoted to Sous Chef, and continued to be super motivated working with a great team and amazing products.
I wanted to progress further and discover the Michelin Star world which led me to Le Grand Maison working with Chef Pierre Gagnaire, an amazing experience and a highlight of my culinary career! Chef Pierre is a well known French Chef with three Michelin Stars, and named number one out of the 100 top chefs in the world in 2015 by French industry magazine, Le Chef. Today, a dream of mine is coming true - I’m opening a restaurant with friends. The project started a few years ago taking photos and cooking for pleasure during my days off, and now it's becoming something real! I’m working with a very good friend who is a Pâtisserie Chef - we want to share our love for food, using quality ingredients and respecting the produce is important to us. We like our food to be sober, simple and natural. Spending time doing preparation and not over decorating because we think that the product speaks for itself. The barbecue will also have an important role of course! Left: pan-fried Saint Pierre with watercress, lemon sauce and banana “farofa” (Brazilian speciality). Right: simple roast chicken.
What are your culinary dreams for the future?
I would like to have a restaurant using high quality and fresh produce in a small city by the ocean and close to the mountains in the Basque Country one day. I want to be able to share my love for food with customers and suppliers.