Hi, My Name Is: Maro Kobayashi

Published on 7 February 2020

Maro Kobayashi is the new chef of The Grand Dining Room in Richmond. He began his career as a line cook in his hometown of Hiroshima in Japan, then moved to the US, working in a number of Japanese and Italian fine-dining restaurants before making the move to Melbourne.

You might remember me from such establishments as Asanebo in Los Angeles and Marea in New York. Marea is one of Manhattan’s more celebrated upmarket Italian restaurants – it was awarded three stars by The New York Times’ Pete Wells, and was named best new restaurant by BonAppétit, Esquire, and GQ.

I’ve been cooking for 17 years, and I'm loving my new adopted home of Melbourne.

My brief for my new gig is cooking delicious modern Italian food that’s inspired by the classics and embraces Australia’s incredible produce.

I’m passionate about Italian food. I’ve been fortunate enough to explore different regions of Italy over the last couple of years and I’ve become obsessed with learning new skills and techniques. I’ve found Italians freely share their heritage and the dishes that make their town special. In Colle Val d’Elsa, Tuscany I learnt how to make pici pasta from a nonna who took me into her home, in Alba I learned the art of perfect polenta from an old master who stirred a huge pot of bubbling polenta over a wood-fired stove. What I love about Italy and especially the food is everything is from the heart.

Which means I’ll be cooking things like hand-rolled strozzapretti that I make with an imported Pasini 00 flour. This dish is made in the pan starting with garlic, chilli and a splash of white wine. I then add a rich prawn stock finishing with prawns, Port Arlington mussels, Abruzzo saffron and a generous squeeze of lemon. We do a tagliolini with my earthy char-grilled broccoli pesto, spinach, parsley, and new season onions, finished with pangrattato. Also, as a nod to tradition and those that came before me, I'm very excited to be continuing the Grand’s famous roast ruck with gnocchi alla Romana.

I’d like you to come in and see us so you can experience some of the best hospitality in this city in a beautiful dining room.

And if there’s one thing you can’t leave without trying, it’s handmade traditional pasta, like my hand-rolled garganelli with a robust lamb and rosemary ragù.

The Grand is doing Italian yum cha for Melbourne Food & Wine Festival – what’s that all about? We’ve been running an Italian yum cha service for the last six years, offering Italian favourites yum-cha style. We’re really excited to be serving some of our most popular dishes for this year’s festival over nine courses including suckling pig croquettes, vitello tonnato, gnocchi with brown butter and sage, and prawn tortelli.

Book a table at The Grand now via grandrichmond.com.au/diningroom. Want more? Follow Maro’s adventures on Instagram at @maro_k86


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