Flash-grilled: Mariana Chaves

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Mariana Chaves, head pastry chef Fifteen Cornwall

Related tags: Chefs, Pastry, Desserts, Fifteen cornwall, Jamie oliver

Born and raised in Rio, pastry chef Mariana Chave attended Le Cordon Bleu prior to a spell with Nuno Mendes. She is currently head pastry chef at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Cornwall.

What was your first job?
I worked with my father in his restaurant when I was 12, my first kitchen job was with Nuno Mendes at the Loft Project.

What is your guiltiest food pleasure?
My chocolate box. I have a monthly subscription with Cocoa Runners. Sometimes in the morning I leave the house for work eating a piece of chocolate.

What’s the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had?
Amass in Copenhagen. It’s Scandinavian food with a modern twist. I like the philosophy they have there. They use every element of their ingredients and have a medicinal herb garden there.

What industry figure do you most admire, and why?
Rene Redzepi. I like the way he uses ingredients and the techniques he develops.

If you weren’t in kitchens, what would you do?
My dream when I was a kid was to become an opera singer! Or perhaps something adventurous that involved traveling.

What is your biggest regret?
I wish I had started to study cooking earlier on.

Pet hate in the kitchen?
People that don’t cut the pipping bags properly. It also really drives me crazy or if I can’t find my spoons. When I worked at Fifteen London they used to hide them to tease me and I’d spend 10 minutes collecting them.

What’s the oddest thing a customer has said to you?
I made a dessert once which used smoked crème fraiche. A customer came up to the pass to tell me it tasted like fish.

What’s the dish you wish you’d thought of?
Albert Adria makes a beautiful coconut dessert. 

Describe your cooking style in three words
Fresh, natural, rustic.

Most overrated food?
Mac & cheese. It’s just mushy pasta with cheese.

Restaurant dictator for a day – what would you ban?
Plastic packaging.

What’s the worst review you’ve ever had?
The smoked crème fraiche comment.

If you could cook for anyone in the world who would you pick, and why?
Rene Redzepi because he’s amazing. I like his style and he has a very clever mind. He has an app for foraging things that I love.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the industry?
To work hard, have fun and learn as much as you can.

Which single item of kitchen equipment could you not live without?
My Kitchen Aid.

What do you cook at home on your days off?
Fresh food and lots of vegetables. I like Japanese flavours, sometimes I cook Japanese rice with vegetables or udon noodles in a broth.

What’s your earliest food memory?
When I was younger I stayed in a farm hotel with my parents in Brazil. I had a pumpkin soup which had a layer of cheese on the top and been baked in the oven. It was simple but so good, I still remember the flavours now.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To have fun when you’re cooking and enjoy cooking the product. When I worked for Nuno Mendes he would always ask ‘are you having fun?’ every five minutes through service.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?
I was swimming at the beach in Brazil and I got caught in the middle of a rip current. It took some time to get someone’s attention but I got rescued in the end.

Where do you go when you want to let your hair down?
The beach for a good walk.

Tipple of choice?
Wine, or gin and tonic.

What would you choose to eat for your last meal?
My father’s fish stew – it’s so good.

Related topics: People

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