Rafael Cagali : Latin American cuisine with Italian inspiration
- 1 Star chef in London
- worked with Quique Dacosta and the Fat Duck
- Brazilian and Italian roots
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Born in São Paulo to Brazilian and Italian parents, Rafael Cagali’s journey into his career as a chef was far from conventional.
Leaving school and unsure of what he wanted to do in life, he chose to study Economics at university in São Paulo. At the age of 20, when his family’s business went into liquidation, he realised he needed to find a career that would support him fast. He took the opportunity to move to London to learn English.
To fund his studies, Rafael began working part-time in kitchens. It was here, he found a passion for cooking and began to seriously consider training as a chef. Unsurprisingly, a course at Westminster College in Hospitality and Catering was to follow, including work experience in the city’s diverse Italian restaurants, including Daphne’s in Chelsea.
As he gained in confidence and technique, the experience also brought to the fore his connection to his Italian heritage. By now 25 years old, and with his heart set of being a chef, he wanted to learn more about the culinary side of this heritage and also upgrade his Italian language skills. He relocated to Verona to live with his grandfather.
Not long after, he joined the team under Chef Stefano Baiocco at the Grand Hotel Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda where he remained for three years, before moving to Denia in Spain to work under Quique Dacosta in his eponymous three Michelin starred restaurant.
In 2012, he moved back to London and took the opportunity of a stagiaire in Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck in Bray. Upon completion, he was offered the position of Chef de Partie, where he was to remain for two years. His experience working for the team at The Fat Duck hugely inspired him, opening his eyes into a more experimental style of gastronomy, but instilling in him the self-discipline, motivation and concentration required to produce unique dishes, full of balanced flavour at the pinnacle of fine dining.
In 2014, Rafael joined Simon Rogan and his team for the opening of Fera at Claridge’s. After the experience he had gained at The Fat Duck, he naturally assumed responsibility for the development kitchen, Aulis, and remained at Fera at Claridge’s for four years. When Aulis rebranded in part to a restaurant, Rafael headed up the kitchen where he remained for eighteen months.
Meaning ‘From the ground’ in Italian, he restaurant reflects both the chefs’ Latin American upbringing and their Italian roots.
A nine-course tasting menu is served with a wine (and beer, and spirits) flight curated by sommelier Eugenio Egorov, consisting of dishes such as short rib, artichoke, shimeji, chard and banana farofa, or Zacapa Rum ice cream, caviar and avocado (served with champagne, in a match described by The Telegraph food critic Hilary Armstrong as “a thoughtful, purist study in fat”)
The open kitchen of this restaurant, set in the Town Hall Hotel on Patriot Square, gives onto a restaurant of white-tableclothed round tables set on herringbone parquet. The chefs bring each dish to the table and explain them in great detail.