Manuel Villegas
Manuel Villegas

Manuel Villegas


Born:  Barcelona, Spain

History:  I learnt to walk in my father's restaurants in the Costa Brava, Catalunya; my life has always been completely linked to the hospitality trade.  My creativity and passion is in the kitchen, and my desire is to create and satisfy.  

My first steps in hospitality were in the summer of 1988, washing a million plates in one of my dad's restaurants.  From then on, I worked all weekends and summers for extra spending money.  I studied for two years with Hofmann and different chefs.  My best school, though, has always been with my dad in his restaurants, going to the market to buy fresh products and investigate what was new, going to neighbouring restaurants to investigate what they were doing and at what price they were selling their dishes.  My father would ask me to go and write everything down so I could tell him.  My father would take me to the best and most exclusive restaurants to teach me about food, flavours, service, pricing and many other things.  We enjoyed these moments together.

At around age 21, I did work in different sectors of hospitality in my father's restaurants and later in jobs as bartender, front of house, waiting plates, cooking pizzas, desserts and more for four years, working my way up to directing a kitchen.  Later it was directing different sectors of the administration in the restaurants like buying stock, taxes, menus.  I guess you can say I think I know almost everything related to a restaurant from open to close, from begining to end.  I have much to learn about cooking though, as this is a never-ending and very creative work - always changing, too!

Even in these moments, right now I try to continue with my passion for the authentic flavours of the Mediterranean, with major love and respect for my clients.  I also try to reflect my passion for my 'mediterraneo' and La Costa Brava.  I still have much to learn and accomplish, but I am very satisfied and very happy in this beautiful country, Australia.  I thank God everyday for my taste buds!

Have you always wanted to be a Chef? 

I have always wanted to create and to satisfy the client - the kitchen is my favourite place.

How would you define your style?

Mediterraneo with different trends in different places.

What is your feature flavour these days?

Different flavours of seafood.

Obsessive compulsive about?

Discipline and respect.

Your greatest culinary inspirations/influences?

In terms of creative inspiration, Ferran Adria, and for traditional influence, three Michelin star chef Santi Santamaria.

What do you love about this business?

I love it when I see customers really enjoying my food.  I love it when they praise my dishes.  I also love that it is always changing.  I must always keep up to date with new and different flavours, dishes, fruit, veg, fish...oh a very long etc.

An ingredient you can’t live without?

Onion.

Signature dish:  Lobster with rice