Seafood is Maestre s passion
Picture: Supplied

Miguel Maestre says his credo is taking chances.

"In life," he said, "you need to take risks. My passion is to show people things that we're not used to seeing."

It's what he aims for in The Living Room - a lifestyle program in which he features. And it's his goal for this year's Good Food & Wine Show in Perth - the fourth he's attended.

"I love Perth," he said. "Perth is great. Last year, the involvement of the people was fantastic. People are tasting wine, people are eating cheese, all the sessions are full, people are really getting involved - it's fantastic. Perth is one of my favourite places."

When Maestre, above, spoke to Fresh, he was planning something that he said had never been done before on stage.

"I want to try and get fresh caviar out of the trout from Yarra Valley on the stage - fresh," he said.

"I want to show people fresh food - how you can milk a fish of caviar without damaging the fish and eat the caviar that's really fresh.

"It's a bit ambitious. It's never been done before on the stage. I'm trying to put everything together now."

He'll also be shucking oysters and teaching how to eat fresh oysters and cook fresh scallops and mussels.

"Seafood is my passion," he said.

"I'm hoping to do very simple dishes. But what I want to do is to show people where things come from, how important it is to be fresh and how amazing is something that's fresh."

His enthusiasm travels down the phone line from Sydney and it's clear that when Mother Nature doled out passion, Maestre received his fair share.

He was born in Muercia in south-eastern Spain and his mother had high hopes of him going to university and finding a profession.

But young Miguel wanted to cook and learn English and he risked his mother's ire by quitting his studies and moving to Scotland to learn English.

He chose Edinburgh because he had one friend there.

"It was the best choice of my life, because Edinburgh was a city with lots of restaurants and nightclubs," he said.

He found work there, from opening the door to serving champagne. One night he cooked paella for the staff, and was told: "Miguel, you've got it."

He asked to be given a chance in the kitchen and from trainee commis chef he was running the section within three months.

That was the start of his career.

He washed dishes and worked for free, peeled potatoes and worked seven days a week, sometimes between 7am and midnight, to gain experience.

"I absolutely live and breathe food," he said.

He met an Australian waitress and they married. A few years ago they decided to move to Australia, where he's since become naturalised.

Maestre's career continued to skyrocket and besides his TV appearance, cookbooks and public events like the Good Food & Wine Show, he is now food director for the Cafe del Mar franchise which has one outlet in Sydney and more planned.

And though he's taught at TAFE, this self-taught chef remains without formal qualifications.

As for his mother and her wish he found a respectable career?

"I joke with her when I send her my books and newspaper cuttings," he says.

"She's so proud of me it's not funny."

Miguel Maestre appears at the Seven West Good Food Theatre presented by Ilve at 1.30pm on Saturday, July 12, and at 10.30am and at 3pm on Sunday, July 13.

The West Australian

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