An interview with Ricardo Chaneton, Chef & Co-Founder of MONO
Name: Ricardo Chaneton | Occupation: Chef & Co-Founder of MONO | Location: Hong Kong | Known for: MONO, three-Michelin-starred Mirazur
Hong Kong is home to an abundance of creative talent, spanning across different career paths from artists to chefs. Each week we interview creatives and entrepreneurs from across the city to learn more about their passions and aspirations. This week, we got up and personal with Ricardo Chaneton, the co-founder and chef at MONO.
A Little Background
Hailing from Venezuela, Ricardo Chaneton initially started thought out his career to be in medicine. After a summer job at a restaurant, his destiny brought him to enrol at CESCA Culinary School in Caracas. His journey pursued French cuisine where he joined Le Gourmet at InterContinental Tamanaco Hotel in Caracas, Venezuela. He then continued his culinary discovery at the eponymous three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Denia, Spain with chef Quique Dacosta, followed by the three-Michelin-starred Mirazur (currently Number One on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants) to work his way up from chef de partie to chef de cuisine in seven years under the stewardship of Mirazur chef Mauro Colagreco.
This helped him gain a thorough understanding of fine French dining, which he brought to Hong Kong in 2016 at Island Shangri La’s Petrus. Only 28 years old, the young chef was drawn to the city’s dynamic and entrepreneurial culinary scene leading him to open up his very own MONO in collaboration with JIA Group. Going back to his Venezuelan roots, Chaneton integrates his childhood delicacies with his years of French fine dining training to curate an experience unlike any other.
1. Can you tell us about yourself?
I am Ricardo Chaneton, chef and co-founder of MONO. I was born in Venezuela, and I speak five languages: Spanish, Italian, English and Portuguese and learned French.
2) What are your favourite Venezuelan dishes?
My favourite dish is Hallacas, a traditional Venezuelan tamal typically served on Christmas and New Year’s Eve. During the Spanish colonial era, the Spanish brought with them grapes, wine, capers and olives and the servants at that time took their masters’ scraps and mixed it with their own ingredients e.g. banana leaf, cornflour, bananas, and it became a tradition. Hallaca is a mélange of these cultures, similar to a tamale but made out of cornflour and stuffed with a meat filling, raisins, capers and olives, then wrapped in a smoked banana leaf, tied and boiled. The making of hallacas are usually a family affair—every family has their own style.
We pay homage to this staple at MONO with a morcilla rendition served with tomatillo salsa.
Cooking is a life to live, not just a job you can just take up. If you choose this path, your passion will guide you through your journey.—Ricardo Chaneton, Chef & Co-Founder of MONO
3) How would you compare Chinese cooking with South American cooking styles?
There are actually quite a number of parallels between Chinese and South American cooking. For starters, both China and South America are incredibly diverse, culturally and culinary wise—each region has a distinct gastronomic culture.
Read also: Cantonese Dining & Art at Duddell’s
4) When did you decide to come to Hong Kong? What were the major differences upon arriving?
After working 7 years at Mirazur, I applied to work at Shangri-La Sydney but it didn’t work out and they sent my CV to Hong Kong. I arrived at Petrus at the Island Shangri-La in 2016 and worked there for almost four years. It was my first time helming a French restaurant, coming from an independent restaurant to a big hotel, that was a change.
5) What is the concept behind MONO?
South America is incredibly diverse and complex, there is so much that has yet to be explored and expressed especially in this part of the world. We want MONO to be Asia’s window to refined South American cuisine by offering a singular seasonal tasting menu that encapsulates my culinary heritage, elevated by my training in French fine dining.
6) What is your proudest dish to date?
It’s our Cacao Trinitario dessert that we make completely from scratch, from raw Ecuadorian pods. Rarely do chefs go through the laborious process of working with raw cacao pods, choosing instead to craft their confections with ready-made chocolate discs.
Cacao is one of the engines of the South American economy, its significance in the lives of South Americans cannot be overstated and I wanted to take this opportunity to pay tribute to this keystone ingredient with this dessert which is made using the entire cacao pod. The dessert comprises four layers, each one showcasing a different texture from the different stages in the chocolate-making process. Creating this dessert has been a deeply nostalgic process, one that evokes feelings of home for many of us here in the restaurant.
7) What are your favourite restaurants in Hong Kong?
8) What’s your favourite Cantonese dish?
XO sauce, just give me some rice to eat it with and I’m happy.
9) Chefs you look up to?
Mauro Colagreco of Mirazur. I’ve learnt a lot working with him and one of the things he taught me was not to be scared of my feelings. When he talks about something that touches his heart, he will show it and this is something I want to convey here at MONO.
10) Advice for aspiring chefs?
Cooking is a life to live, not just a job you can just take up. If you choose this path, your passion will guide you through your journey.
MONO, 5/F, 18 On Lan St, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9726 9301, mono.hk