Celebrity chef Miguel Maestre first popped up on our TV screens when he joined fellow chefs Gary Mehigan, Adrian Richardson, and Manu Feildel on Boys Weekend, but he really won the hearts of many viewers on Channel 10’s The Living Room.
Originally from Murica, Spain, Maestre continues to draw from his Spanish heritage in his cooking, and is the author of two cooking books, Miguel’s Tapas and Spanish Cooking.
Maestre recently caught up with Community Table while at the recent launch of Moro Eat Life Up! event to talk about family and food. He’s also the ambassador of Moro.
Who is your inspiration?
I’m inspired by my family: Mum and dad. I have amazing memories of me being little when mum and dad use to cook together in the kitchen. Up until today mum and dad, who still live in Spain, are still together and they’re really cute because they work together and live together; they’re best friends.
My mum never had another boyfriend except for my dad and they got married very young, and they’re quite young; mum is 60 and dad is 65, and I’m 35. So I have amazing memories of them cooking and their positivity really built me up as a chef. I think for me cooking when I was little was a really positive thing to do, because I learned how to love it more and more as I discovered more of it.
When I turned 18 I said I wanted to become a chef, but mum said, “Don’t become a chef it’s a shitty job. There are too many hours”. She thought I should study a degree like my brothers because our trade requires a lot of hours and effort. Fifteen years ago, it’s true there was no glamour in cooking, and you only really become a chef because you have passion. But now its clouded a bit. But in the end I think even mu was the one who told me not to become a chef, she was also my inspiration.
What’s currently in your pantry?
I have a humongous pantry. I always have lots of spices because I believe there needs to be variety in cooking even if you’re doing something up simple like chicken you put a bit of paprika and cumim. I use an extreme amount of olive oil so there’s plenty of that. I love Spanish salt because I love seasoning, and I also have lots of peppers: green peppers, black peppers, and white peppercorns. I use a lot of rice, too.
What do you keep your fridge?
It’s full always. There are lots of protein like pork shoulder, pork belly, pork cutlet, and I also beautiful pieces of beef for roast beef for family dinners and lunches. There’s also fish, and its important to have a variety of them because they’re so good for you. There’s also other seafood like mussels, pippies, and prawns. I also have lots of veggies: cauliflower, broad beans, zucchini, betroot, potatoes to make roast potatoes, or whatever is in season. Others include milk, eggs, and lots of French butter.
What would be your dish of your choice if you were hosting a party?
If I was cooking a dinner then I’d put something up like a paella and then dinner is done. I’d also get people together and ask them to help by telling them you do this, and you do that.
Your gorgeous daughter Claudia, is she following in your footsteps in the kitchen?
Claudia is amazing. She’s three years old, and has been with me on the show a couple of times. Claudia always does the whisking with her mini whisk because I always make breakfast with my daughter, whether it’s early or later I always make the effort. We made these sour cream pancakes two days ago, and it was amazing. I gave her a little whisk and she sits at the bench with me, and she’ll whisk. She’s even helped me make pasta.
Where do you like to go for a feed?
I love the fish markets. I go there often. I love to go and choose the big, fat king crabs because they have so much respect for the animals, it’s all done properly, it’s fresh, and you eat what has been caught because it’s what the guys bring from the boats. I also love going to Chinese restaurants because I love the live seafood they have there.