Maestre of fun, food to shine at festival

Published 5:00am 1 June 2023

Maestre of fun, food to shine at festival
Words by Kylie Knight

Celebrity chef Miguel Maestre always cooks for guests – whether they be family, friends or customers – and he believes fun is as vital an ingredient as quality produce.

He can’t wait to bring his contagious sense of frivolity to Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival, combining it with the best produce from the region to present memorable cooking demonstrations and two dinners.

Miguel was a hit at last year’s festival, but a busy calendar meant he could only attend on the first day. He’s thrilled to be returning for the whole event, which runs from August 4-6.

He will present two Spanish Feast dinners, offering diners a three-course meal he will cook in front of them. Tickets to each of the dinners are $139 (+ booking fee).

He will also be appearing on The Kitchen cooking stage across the weekend. Entry is included in the general admission ticket price.

Miguel is excited to be part of a big line-up of chefs, including Poh Ling Yeow, Alastair McLeod, Kim McCosker and Dominique Rizzo.

“It’s good to bring attention to the area and to make food part of the landscape of the area,” he says.

“For a food show … the location is world-class. The water (views) all the way across from the beginning to the end (of the site).”

During his food demonstrations, he hopes to pass on tips including how to cook a whole fish with crispy skin which he says is the equivalent of crackling on pork.

Maestre of fun, food to shine at festival

Local produce to shine

Miguel’s promising a focus on seafood for which the Moreton Bay Region is renowned.

“I will showcase as much local produce as possible. I want the ingredients to shine,” he says.

And those keen to see him use his signature paella to do just that won’t be disappointed.

“Me not making a paella at a food show would be like Ricky Martin not singing Livin' la Vida Loca (at a concert),” he says laughing.

“The best chef is the one that gives the customer what they like. It takes a lifetime to learn that.

“Real chefs cook for guests. Some chefs cook for customers.”

And it’s no hardship for Miguel. He would happily make paella every day of the week.

He believes the dish is now an important part of Australian modern cuisine and a great way to incorporate a large number of local ingredients.

“Paella looks like a football stadium because it’s round and everyone gathers around every side. It’s a blank canvas,” he says.

Miguel’s cooking demonstrations will be an opportunity for home cooks to take home some of the skills and secrets he has learned during his years of cooking.

His dishes will feature oysters, scallops, Moreton Bay bugs, local fish and he will even make a Bloody Mary-style cocktail.

Miguel says he loves making pasta from scratch and has a bulletproof recipe and technique to share at the festival.

“You could do it with your eyes closed,” he says.

Maestre of fun, food to shine at festival

Family connection to cooking

But for Miguel, the principals of Spanish cooking are the reason he decided to become a chef.

“My mum comes from a family of 20 children. My grandfather was a really successful farmer … it was a self-sustainable farm, a long time ago, and all the kids used to work in the farm. That’s why they had so many, the free labour,” he says laughing.

“Going to the Sunday family days, with my family, there were always 60 or 70 cousins and we didn’t go to restaurants, we just cooked. My uncles would do the pigs, we do everything from nose to tail … my grandmother would do the big paella to feed the whole family. It’s what I learned.

“I think that’s where my passion for cooking comes from. My style of cooking is really loud and really out there because that’s what I learned, that’s what I am.

“That was my direction. I worked in fine dining … but my cuisine in my heart and what runs through my blood is that traditional Spanish cooking. That’s why my meals are generous, fun … there’s no funny sauces, there’s no craziness it’s just humble ingredients combined to a point that people can enjoy.

“I cook the same food pretty much on The Living Room as I do at home. It’s made with a lot of love and flavour.”

Don’t miss Miguel at Moreton Bay Food + Wine Festival, which is on from August 4-6. Visit moretonbayfoodandwine.com.au to buy your tickets.

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