Crazy cooking with Miguel
Affectionately known as the Crazy Bull, Miguel Maestre entered the culinary industry with a bang – fusing the Spanish ingredients and cooking styles of his heritage with Australian menus.
Born in Murcia in the south of Spain, Miguel Maestre’s love for food has been prominent from a young age, and is something that has carried through into his high profile culinary career.
While you know and love him as a co-host of The Living Room, Miguel has forged a strong and successful reputation in the food industry, starting with his role as head chef of Tony Bilson’s bistro, Number One, when he was just 27, where he also worked alongside fellow celebrity chef Manu Feildel. He then went on to open the biggest Spanish restaurant in Australia, El Toro Loco, at Manly Beach.
Our family time really revolved around cooking and sharing of food.”
At age 29, Miguel was invited to cater the Emirates Melbourne Cup, which put him on a national and international stage. Miguel was later recognised and celebrated when His Majesty The King of Spain gave him the highest award a citizen can receive – the Order of Civil Merit, for his “extraordinary service to the nation for the benefit of Spain in the Australian media”.
Profile catches up with Miguel ahead of his appearance at Regional Flavours in South Bank Parklands, Brisbane on 15-16 July, where he promises to showcase one of his favourite ingredients – mushrooms, and just how versatile and delicious they can be.
Profile: Tell us about your introduction to food and cooking.
Miguel: My inspiration for cooking came from my mum and my heritage in Spain. My mum comes from a family of 20 and every Sunday there would be a family meal cooked at my grandmother’s house. Our family time really revolved around cooking and sharing of food.
I love to cook dishes from all cultures and have my children experience different tastes. There really isn’t something that I cook repeatedly. I mix it up!”
Profile: What made you want to pursue cooking as a career?
Miguel: Due to my family history with food and cooking, I found that this was where my talents lay, and what I was born to do. I didn’t really feel that I was good at anything else.
Profile: What was the best piece of advice you ever received in the kitchen?
Miguel: The best piece of advice that I received was from an English chef named Jose. He told me, “Not to be scared of pressure, because pressure turns a lump of coal into a diamond!” Pressure makes you stronger and better at what you do.
Profile: What has been the highlight of your career?
Miguel: I have many highlights. Being a chef for the Emirates Marquee for Melbourne Cup, the opening day of my first restaurant, El Toro Loco. Also being awarded the Order of Civil Merit of Spain. This was presented to me by the King of Spain.
Profile: What do you love most about food and cooking?
Miguel: The reward of seeing people I cook for happy and enjoying what I’ve made for them.
Profile: What is your favourite dish to cook?
Miguel: I love cooking Paella Maestre, as it’s my signature dish and I can adapt it to utilise local ingredients wherever I am.
Profile: When you’re at home, what is your go-to dish to cook?
Miguel: I love to cook dishes from all cultures and have my children experience different tastes. There really isn’t something that I cook repeatedly. I mix it up!
Profile: Is there anything you don’t like the taste of?
Miguel: I don’t love the aftertaste of mint and chocolate combined. No after dinner mints for me!
Garlic Mushroom Raviolo Recipe
1L vegetable stock
1 large field mushroom, chopped
in small cubes
1 punnet button mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
Splash olive oil
Splash sherry vinegar
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
6 large iceberg lettuce leaves
1 small punnet cherry heirloom
1/2 Spanish onion, finely diced
10 green olives, pitted, finely chopped
Cook quinoa and vegetable stock in a medium pot on medium heat until quinoa is soft. Set aside.
In a large frying pan on high heat, pan-fry mushrooms (save a handful of mushrooms for the salsa), garlic, splash of olive oil and finish with half of the chives and parsley. Mix with quinoa and half of tomatoes.
Blanch lettuce leaves in boiling water for 2 seconds and cool down into iced water. Pat dry with paper towel.
To assemble raviolo, line the inside of a ladle with glad wrap with enough hanging over the edge to wrap up the parcel. Add lettuce leaf on top of glad wrap and fill with mushroom and quinoa mix. Fold the lettuce leaf closed and tightly close the glad wrap.
Take raviolo out of ladle and steam for one minute (still in glad wrap). Remove glad wrap to serve.
To make the salsa, combine tomato, mushrooms, onion, olives, parsley, chives with olive oil and sherry vinegar. Season to taste.
Serve raviolo on top of salsa.