Frederic Chastro: “The adrenalin of a kitchen keeps you alive”

Meet the young chef and restaurateur representing Benelux at the Grand Finale in Milan in this exclusive interview.

Franco-Colombian chef Frederic Chastro has a busy time ahead of him this year. Not only is he busy managing his newly opened restaurant Sōma in Antwerp with his girlfriend, but he will also take on the additional challenge of representing Benelux at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Grand Final 2018 in May. 

We found out more about the young chef’s cooking influences and ambitions as he prepares to take part in the prestigious talent search for the best young chef in the world. Here’s what he had to tell us:

Describe your signature dish…
My signature dish was created for this contest. This dish represents all my different experiences, professional and personal, during the past years. 

The corn used in the dish represents the beginning, Colombia my home country, the rabbit is from Belgium and it represents my actual country. And French techniques are applied to both of them, the country where I learned to cook.

What made you become a chef?
At the beginning the idea was to be a Hotel Manager, but after seeing what it’s like to be in a kitchen there where no way back. The adrenaline of a kitchen keeps you alive!

Who has influenced you in your career?
My family were the people that created the passion and the love for food. Without them my interest in gastronomy wouldn't exist. All the chefs that I work for gave me the precise experience needed, plus some valuable advice! And Adriana, my girlfriend and colleague, without her I will never have got into this competition.

Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years’ time?
Really hard question! We just opened a restaurant, Adriana and I. Sōma, in Antwerp, Belgium, the idea is to keep going the good vibes and the tasteful food. No special projects, just being happy!

How are you/will you collaborate with your mentor, Peter Goossens, in order to perfect your dish for the Grand Finale?
My mentor wants to work on the aesthetics of the dish. We will try to make it more elegant and more refined. The idea is to start with the actual dish and push it further.

What is the most exciting/challenging element of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition for you?
The most exciting thing of the contest are the last 10 minutes, the rush that you feel in those last 10 minutes are crazy. And the most challenging is to be next to the next generation of great cooks, and to see what they are able to do, great experience!

Why do you think you can win the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 title?
I don't know, but for sure I will do my best!

If you weren’t a chef what would you be?
I don't really know. But since we opened our restaurant I am becoming more and more interested in wine, the passion behind every wine maker is as big as the passion behind a dish. Maybe a sommelier or wine maker I guess!

What’s your most memorable food experience?
There are plenty! The market/street food in South-America is so rich and full of love and kindness, the food is good but the people are even better! The markets from the south of France and the different smells of fresh fruits, spices and cured meats are also a great mix, this simple thing show how rich and complete is the French culture.

For me the best food experience is not only the food, but the full package, food+people+place+time=perfection!

What do you like to do in your free time?
I do enjoy going to the movies and thinking about nothing! Also doing some sport, keeps the mind relaxed! And having some good food with my girlfriend or some drinks together, simple things, but important things!

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