Alessandro was born in Cremona, Italy, the birthplace of the Stradivarius Violin legacy. Luckily for us at Gallery 44 he is making his own music in our kitchen in the form of a carefully curated à la carte and dégustation menu. Alessandro attended the world-famous Salsomaggiore Hotel Academy in Italy, and since that point he has never looked back, working in numerous Michelin starred restaurants throughout Italy and Spain. In 2012 he opened the stunning Osteria Acquarol restaurant in San Michele, a beautiful wine growing village at the foot of the Alps in Northern Italy. One year later at the age of 29 his unique style and modern approach won him the coveted Most Talented Chef in Italy award presented by Luigi Cremona.
For this spring we are proud to introduce our new friend Ohno Takehiro, a Japanese culinary maestro, residing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ohno’s style is absolutely unique, an exquisite harmony of Argentinian meat and fish, together with a touch of Samurai magic from his homeland. This beautiful fusion was inspired by working with Koji Fukaya from Japan and Hilario Arbelaitz from the Basque country. Ohno’s prolific skills in the kitchen quickly catapulted him to the national TV screens, where he has been a popular figure for several decades. In fact he was so popular that the TV show was soon to be renamed after him.
Early Life and Studies
Ohno Takehiro was born in 1967 in Hokkaido, Japan, and is very proud of his Samurai roots. Ohno graduated from college in his native homeland, having studied nutrition and gastronomy, and he continued with a bachelor’s degree in his chosen craft – specialising in French and Spanish cuisine at the famous Akihiko Manada college in Osaka.
Little Ohno Takehiro loved to visit his mother and father at work. His mother worked in a famous German pastry shop, and the small Ohno really enjoyed baking cakes with her – confectionery was definitely his first love.
His father ran a chain of Japanese hotels, and was always immaculately dressed in a fitting suit, however, it was when he saw the chef’s uniform that he fell in love with his lifelong passion.
Learning his Craft
On completion of his studies, the ambitious Ohno worked in a Basque restaurant in Japan for two years, and subsequently moved to Spain where he was quickly promoted to sous-chef in one of the best restaurants in the country.
It was there that he met Fernando Trocca, an Argentinian culinary legend, and a new chapter was soon to begin. Ohno flew to Buenos Aires with Fernando, and he has not looked back since.
Ohno on TV
Ohno’s prolific skills in the kitchen quickly catapulted him to the international TV screens where his cooking show is aired all over South America, even as far as Mexico. His gourmet TV show has become so popular that it has now been renamed after him.
Ohno’s style is simply unique, an exquisite harmony of Argentinian meat and fish, together with some Samurai magic from his homeland.
Life is a great adventure he says with a cheeky smile. Ohno is now cooking all over South America where he really is a true celebrity. He loves to travel, and often makes VIP guest cooking appearances in Europe and North America, as well as his adopted continent.
Family and Charity
Ohno has a family in Argentina, but he thinks it is unlikely that his teenage son and daughter will follow in his culinary footsteps. His beloved parents are still in Japan and every year he travels home to see them. Ohno loves to work for charities, and his work with kids is second to none!
Bushido – The Virtues of a Samurai
‘I fell in love with cooking from an early age. I cannot imagine doing anything else – it is my love, my passion.’
Manuel Lino is one of Portugal’s most talented chefs, having worked at several Michelin restaurants including Mugaritz, El Celler de Can Roca, as well as the Moments Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where he perfected his craft under the award-winning female chef Carme Ruscalleda. A young and ambitious master of his craft, this ‘culinary virtuoso’ will surely delight you with his exquisite dishes.
Manuel lives with his wife and two children in Salvatera de Magos, approximately 50km north-east of Lisbon. He enjoys spending time with his family, travelling and exploring new destinations, and of course new tastes. ‘It was my mother who inspired me to choose cooking as a career, and I have never looked back. I knew that this was it for me, what I wanted to do. I cannot imagine doing anything else – it is my love, my passion’
‘My main goal has always been to be modern – to create contemporary dishes. The art of fine cuisine is an ever-evolving process. The element of surprise, and the delight in the guests’ eyes gives me the inspiration to be better and better.’
After my studies I quickly realised that I had a new vision for many Portuguese specialities, as well as many new ideas for exciting and contemporary dishes. I could see so much potential in improving the beautiful dishes of my homeland. I knew I needed to work in a restaurant with flare, somewhere where I could express my passion and freedom.
I was honoured to get an internship at one of the top-ranked restaurants in the world – Mugaritz. This was to be the driving force behind my art, after all cooking is an art that is second to none – a divine ritual that is key to nourishing the soul. The kitchen is my studio, and the plate is my canvas. At Mugaritz I quickly learned how to bring out the best taste from every ingredient.
After my spell at Mugaritz I was offered a position at another Michelin star restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, this time with three stars. From here I felt I could really express my creativity and my love for my art.
Always looking for new styles and new adventures, I later found myself at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where I strove to perfect my craft under the award-winning female chef Carme Ruscalleda – a truly magical experience.
My journey has been incredible, and I can honestly say that in just the last five to ten years the entire gastronomical landscape of Portugal has changed beyond recognition. There are many new and dynamic chefs, a whole host of fantastic restaurants, all with something different to offer. New styles, new flavours, one passion.
‘Which chefs do I admire?’
I cannot say that I have role models, but I admire the work of Blumenthal, Barbot and Keller. I am a purist and I try to combine the finest natural ingredients with the simplicity of my hand and my heart. I serve simple authentic food with a modern spin.
It is an honour and pleasure for me to be the first ‘Star Guest Chef’ at Gallery 44 in Prague, and I am looking forward to greeting you in this delightful setting.
‘The guests’ happiness is also a happiness of my own.’
Manuel Lino, Portugal