Ricardo Chaneton, former chef de cuisine of the acclaimed Mirazur in Menton, France, has joined Restaurant Petrus at the Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong. Chaneton prides himself on using only the finest natural ingredients for his dishes to ensure quality and freshness in all his innovations. Equipped with a culinary school background and stints at Michelin starred restaurants, particularly under Mirazur’s Mauro Colagreco, Chaneton is more than ready to treat guests to his exquisite take on modern French fare, which includes lighter, contemporary dishes such as asparagus carpaccio, Hokkaido scallops with blood orange sauce and a carrots rainbow, and a Greek yogurt dessert with chickpea ice cream and mint. The newly appointed chef takes a break from dazzling Hong Kong’s fine diners to talk to us about ingredients, inspirations and his love for Din Tai Fung.
What are three basic ingredients that you can’t live or cook without?
Sea salt, water and olive oil.
How did your fondness for cooking develop? What inspired you to become a chef?
A really good friend of mine spoke to me about the food industry and the possibility of becoming a cook. I find it funny when I think about that moment, as I was choosing between sociology studies in university or a cooking career.
How does the style of your dishes and cooking at Petrus differ from at Mirazur?
I have been with Mirazur for seven of its 10 years of existence. Mirazur was as much a part of me as I was a part of it. Many of the dishes I created for Mirazur represented only a small taste of my style. Between Chef Mauro Colagreco and myself, we created a style that is a mixture of our good and strong friendship and professional respect for each other. I want to explore the products and cultural mix here in Hong Kong and I hope to showcase that in my cuisine and in the signature dishes offered in Petrus.
How did your time at Le Gourmet in Venezuela set the tone for your career? I understand that this was considered your “big break”?
Le Gourmet was my foray in the fine dining scene and French cuisine. Chef Thomas Fernandez gave me the opportunity to handle operations at the meat station and it only took a few months before I was promoted to sous chef. This was definitely a turning point in my life, as it made me realise what I want. All it took was a little help from a good friend, adrenaline and a passion for guest satisfaction. My time at Le Gourmet was akin to what salt and pepper is for a French chef – vital. I consider it an important part of my success.
You have been quoted saying, “Only the best natural ingredients are used to create dishes as they should be”. From where do you source the best ingredients?
The best ingredients come from what’s available during the season; the season will tell a chef what to use and how to use it. The role of a chef is to honour these ingredients with good seasoning and honest cooking techniques. Ingredients must speak for themselves.
I like sourcing my products from different parts of the globe. We have a number of suppliers from Europe and around Asia, but I also like incorporating locally sourced ingredients to my dishes.
Food-wise, do you have any guilty pleasures of which you can’t get enough?
Favourite restaurant in Hong Kong, and why?
Din Tai Fung. The operation of this institution is inspiring. Their consistent quality and regularity is a really good example to many of us in the industry.
Favorite dish to cook and favorite dish to eat?
I like to cook risotto and I love to eat chao fan (fried rice).
What is the best meal you have ever eaten?
Among the many dishes I have eaten, I still think the best meal that I have had is the arepas of my Venezuelan grandmother, paired with my aunt’s amazing Colombian coffee for breakfast.