Chef Agustin Balbi : Defying labels and bending genres around Spanish and Japanese fusion
1* Restaurant Ando in Hong Kong
Modern Japanese with Mediterranean touches
Best young talent by La Liste
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Chef Agustin Balbi began his road into culinary arts at the age of just 15 inspired by the cooking and hospitality shown at a very early age by his Spanish grandmother. Balbi began his career working under Thierry Pzonka (maitre cuisinier de France) at one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Buenos Aires while studying at the Argentina best culinary school, The BUE Trainers.
This marked the start of his culinary career on the international stage, where he has won numerous awards, including Hong Kong Best New Chef 2016 by T Dining by Hong Kong Tatler.
After graduation with honours, Agustin Balbi looked for a different path than the classical Europe, he went to work in the United States instead under star chef Scott Boswell of Stella! Meanwhile, he also received professional recognition from the American Culinary Federation that allowed him to stage at America finest restaurants.
To further his skills in culinary arts, Agustin Balbi spent over five years training in Japan, learning new techniques from the country’s best masters. He spent an extensive amount of time working and training at a number of restaurants, such as Zurriola (two-Michelin-starred) with Seiichi Honda, Nihonryori Ryugin (three-Michelin-starred) with Seiji Yamamoto, and Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros (two-Michelin-starred) with Guillaume Bracaval. His dedication to Japanese food and culture was recognised in 2015, when he was selected as one of the top 10 Japan San Pellegrino Young Chef (under 30) being the only foreigner.
In Hong Kong together with grand chef Hideaki Matsuo of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Kashiwaya in Osaka, they had created HAKU that marries harmoniously premium Japanese produce with Chef Agustin Balbi’s Spanish heritage.
The pursuit of new experiences & learnings
It’s no secret the complexity and connection that food can bring. It’s a careful blending of science, art, and culture. At Haku, we come from an eclectic background and have long recognized the value of cross-industry and cross-cultural collaboration. We’re constantly seeking unexpected and interesting opportunities to create defining moments that allow us to learn from friends old and new as well as provide a memorable experience for our guests.
“Ando” – a translation of Agustin’s unorthodox journey onto the plate
Chef Agustin Balbi, formerly of Haku, has opened Ando, his first solo restaurant in collaboration. The new restaurant presents Balbi’s cuisine with Spanish and Japanese influences in forms of tasting menus.
The name ‘Ando’ takes after part of Balbi’s name which also is the Spanish verb participle to describe an action in the present; while in Japanese, language the term refers to a sense of solace. The new restaurant is set to present a cuisine with elements derived from Balbi’s Spanish roots and influences from Japan, where the chef honed his craft during his tenure at Tokyo’s Cuisine Michel Troisgros and Nihonryori Ryugin. He received his first star in 2020!