Chef Miguel Maestre Talks Spain, Australia and Love

18 November 2012

The Living Room's resident chef, Miguel Maestre feels blessed to cook mouth-watering cuisine in some of Australia's most beautiful rural destinations, using the fresh local produce.

"In every episode of the show, I cook with incredible locally-produced ingredients in stunning locations. The places are all so charming. I went to Berry in New South Wales and met a family who have run a donut business for years and years. I decided to do a challenge. The family cooked their donuts, while I cooked churros. Berry was another amazing little town with so much going on. Cooking lamb in the Barossa Valley was also great," said Miguel.

 Miguel in Chile

"Internationally, I went to Santiago - it was very special for me cooking in Chile. I cooked empanadas with a Chilean family. And then there was New Zealand, where I cooked Green Mussels at the Marlborough Sound."

Miguel grew up in Murcia, a city just inland from the south-eastern coastline of Spain. The region is known as the orchard of Europe because of the strong agricultural industry that supplies the continent with fruits and vegetables. Miguel says that Murcia is a beautiful part of Spain with lovely seafood, friendly people and a great fiesta atmosphere.

"I love the whole of Spain. If you're looking for the real Spain, I recommend Seville and Granada with the flamenco dancing, Spanish history and bull fighting. But if you're looking to go surfing, I think Tarifa is an amazing place, it overlooks the Strait of Gibraltar. The cities of Madrid and Barcelona are great for shopping," he said.

However while Miguel loves his homeland, it was love of a different kind that brought the affable Spaniard to Australia. He met his Australian wife in the UK. They then married in Edinburgh and decided to move to Australia.

"Australia is such a beautiful country. I have my citizenship - so I'm Australian as well. It's my home now. It's an eclectic and fascinating multi-cultural paradise. As a chef, any produce you want, you can find here. And as a customer, any restaurant you want, is on offer. It's a paradise island."

 Miguel in Berry

Since arriving in Australia, Miguel's culinary skills were quickly noted by Australia's most prominent chefs. He worked under the guidance of Manu Fiedel in Tony Bilson's Number One Wine Bar at Circular Quay. Miguel opened his own restaurant named El Toro Loco in 2010 and has appeared as a guest judge on Masterchef.

Miguel and his wife currently live on Sydney's northern beaches, where he tries his best to fit in with the local surf culture - but mastering the sport continues to allude him.

"I'm a terrible surfer. Dr Chris and I went to Punta de los Lobos in Chile for The Living Room. The beach has the biggest waves in South America - up to four or five metres. Dr Chris tried to teach me how to surf but it was futile."

While Miguel has travelled extensively, it is Iceland that remains an elusive destination. He says that he's tried to reach the country many times and for one reason or another never got there. For the moment, however, holiday plans may need to remain on hold, as Network 10 has commissioned a second series of the lifestyle show.

"I'm looking forward to a second season so that I can cook in more beautiful international locations."

Lyndon Barnett

Guided by curiosity and a sense of adventure, Lyndon travelled independently to 69 countries on six continents. As such, travel is Lyndon's only addiction. He enjoys with equal measure - scaling the peaks of a South American mountain at altitude, attending opera in a European Opera House or hunting for a bargain in an Asian market.