Melbourne Calling: Ignacio Mattos

Published on 11 March 2020

Photo: Estela chef Ignacio Mattos

There’s a whole load of interesting people coming to town in March for the 2020 Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, and there’s lots we want to know about them. We also hit up the Melbourne food world for their own burning questions for the out-of-town talent. Ignacio Mattos, the chef-owner of New York venues Estela, Café Altro Paradiso and Flora, is the latest in the series.

MFWF: What’s the first thing you want to do when you touch down in Melbourne?

Try to beat jet lag, so I’ll try and stay as busy as I can.

Peter Gunn, Ides: If you’ve been lucky enough to have a venue (maybe several) open for many years, how do you deal with growing your reputation while maintaining the integrity of your business?

Restless tenacity and love for the craft.

Gerald Diffey, Gerald’s Bar: How’s Sam?

Sam’s great: he’s a pro, fun and ready to show us the ins and outs of Melbourne.

Fleur Studd, Market Lane Coffee: We dined at your restaurant Estela earlier this year and were blown away – we ended up there three times in a one-week trip! Every single thing on the menu was utterly delicious. Where do you seek inspiration from? Is there anyone in particular who inspires you?

I find inspiration in the most absurd, redundant places. Sometimes in mistakes or things that feel simply wrong. Sometimes in things I really don’t like, and most of the time it's about the product itself and how to create comfort in a unique and unusual way. People that do what they love at their maximum level of commitment inspire me: from David Byrne to my friend Laila Gohar.

Jess Ho, Time Out: Where are you most looking forward to eating while you're in Melbourne?

Attica, Igni and Embla to begin.

MFWF: What’s the dish you’re best known for?

Endive salad.

Fleur Studd, Market Lane Coffee: Where do you eat and drink in NYC when you are not at one of your venues?

I tend to go to places that are either forgotten neighbourhood spots, or unassuming places. I like to go where I know about where they get their product from. But really it all depends on my mood. 

Sofia Levin, food writer: Rumour has it (and The New York Times says) that you enjoy a pedicure. What’s something else about you that people might not expect from a chef?

I only cook steamed things at home.

MFWF: Which Melburnian do you relate most closely to: (a) Nick Cave (b) Chris Hemsworth (c) Courtney Barnett (d) Rupert Murdoch (e) Olivia Newton-John (f) Flea?

I love, respect and admire Nick Cave, but I relate the most to Flea.

Ignacio will be on the Asko Main Stage as part of Shed X Talks on Saturday 21 March, Queen Victoria Market, Queen St, Melbourne. Entry is free. More information here.