Chef Ricardo Chaneton : the first Venezuelan chef-owner with a Michelin Star
- 1* Restaurant Mono in Hong Kong
- #41 at the Asia’s 50 Best 2023
- South American flavours with a European touch
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While his formative training took place at some of the finest French Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, Ricardo Chaneton ’s first real encounter with food was his family’s hearty home-cooked meals whilst growing up in Venezuela – with recipes that were passed down through generations, improvised, but always genuine and cooked with love.
Transcended by his multicultural background, Italian, Venezuelan, Colombian and Argentinian, Ricardo’s earliest memories of food are filled with South American flavours with a European touch, flavours and scents that still guides his cooking today.
A confident and passionate man even as a teenager, Ricardo Chaneton had originally set out for a career in medicine, but a summer job in a restaurant changed his destiny. When his father help him get a job in a pizzeria, thinking he may get bored from the tough lifestyle and give up, but Ricardo fell in love, with the adrenaline of working in the kitchen, coming back home at the end of everyday covered in oil, with a job that allowed him to use his hands and be creative.
Eager to sharpen his culinary toolkit, Ricardo began his journey with French cuisine at one of the renowned establishments in his native region, Le Gourmet a prototypically French restaurant at the InterContinental Tamanaco Hotel in Venezuela, where he learned the building blocks and know-how to running a kitchen. But it was a fateful trip to Europe that brought him into the upper echelons of fine dining, where a three-month stint at two-Michelin-starred Quique Dacosta Restaurante in Spain turned into one year, followed by a life-changing seven years at 3-Michelin-starred Mirazur working his way up from chef de partie to chef de cuisine under the stewardship of Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco. His time at Mirazur instilled a lifelong reverence for seasonality and the indelible discipline of French fine dining.
He finally settled in Hong Kong, taking on the role of Executive Chef of Petrus at Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, where he spent nearly four years leading an award-winning team at the age of 28. Drawn to the city’s dynamic entrepreneurial and culinary scene, Ricardo decided Hong Kong was the place to open his first restaurant, Mono.
At MONO, Ricardo Chaneton goes back to his roots and distils Latin America’s complex culinary heritage and ambition using his mastery of French fine dining to present a singular modern tasting menu. MONO is greater than the sum of its parts, speaking volumes about the intensity of his craft and his ambitions for the future of modern Latin American cuisine. The region — a mellifluous blend of culinary traditions from indigenous Indians, colonialist Spanish and Portuguese and the African influences they brought with them, and European emigres in the last century — is also blessed with an abundance of microclimates and biodiversity making it ripe for experimentation and interpretation.
MONO sits quietly yet confidently at the intersection of all these influences, connecting dots to tell a story about heritage, origins and savoir faire, while forming new possibilities about flavour and texture. But there’s more to MONO that meets the eye.
It starts with the bold stainless steel chef’s counter that’s the heart and soul of the house so diners are fully immersed in the MONO experience, to the intricate details like the crafted plateware inspired by South American pottery celebrating the continent’s coastline and mountains. But it’s the seemingly incongruous sight of retro vinyl records that begs curiosity. A gift from his father to celebrate the restaurant’s opening, it reminds Ricardo of the two of them cooking to the riffs of era-defining tunes. But it also hints at his primal need to stay anchored to his roots, and innate quest to continuously explore and express his identity.
A firm advocate in the restorative power of a good meal – after all the word “restaurant” is derived from the French term “restaurer”, meaning to restore – Ricardo Chaneton believes life’s most memorable events often take place around the table. At MONO, Ricardo and his team bring the hallmark warmth and generosity of Latin American hospitality to the table to deliver a heartfelt dining experience.
Since it first opened in 2019, MONO has gone from strength to strength, earning its first Michelin star and ranking No.32 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2022 and No.41 in 2023, and being named Tatler Hong Kong’s ‘Restaurant of the Year’ in 2023. The significance of these achievements is two-fold – it recognizes the team’s endeavours to introduce the region’s rich culinary heritage to Hong Kong diners while also making Ricardo Chaneton the first Venezuelan chef-owner to earn these distinctions.