In this interview with Chef Mario Fraschini of Da Maurizio Phuket, The Yum List uncovers some stories about life behind the scenes of one of Phuket’s most-loved restaurants.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
The hotel and restaurant industry has always been in my head, even a child. I have always been a lover of good food and when my parents took me to a restaurant, I always liked to taste new things. When I came to the age of 14, I finished school and I had to choose what my future should be, which high school I attend and what I would become. My choice is clear as here I am, I’m a chef!
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
I could write a book but I will limit myself to my most beautiful adventure and satisfaction in this work. One spring evening among the customers of the restaurant there were two ladies with two kids who asked me for some information about the dishes we were preparing because the kids had to follow a particular diet. I explained the dishes meticulously and at the end, they asked me if I had the patience to make two pasta recipes with tomato and basil. Sometimes this bothered a bit but for these two kids, I was almost thrilled to prepare these dishes because I understood that there was something strange.
I wanted to learn more about these customers and I discovered that these children were in my city, supported by an association, because they were undergoing very expensive treatments because of an illness. After the mothers explained to me what it was and having seen these children still smiling and happy with their spaghetti I felt the lack of oxygen. I had goosebumps. I did not sleep that night because I felt the need to do something for them. The day after, after meeting them again, I contacted this association with which they were being treated. With great joy, I started to collaborate because for me there was no greater joy than seeing a 6-year-old child smile with his face dirty with tomato sauce after having eaten my spaghetti (the chef’s special long ones) in spite of those heavy times.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
In the wake of footballers and singers, actors and models, the new generation chefs have turned over the coordinates of traditionally modest work into the object of the desire of thousands of youngsters. In reality, the chef’s job is so strenuous and stressful that it has been included among the most critical ones, both physically and mentally. The hardness of work is evident, with heavy schedules and multiple fatigues, which entail a tenfold risk of strains, tendonitis, high blood pressure and arthrosis. But more than the body, cooks often mourn the soul in the face of responsibilities in front of customers, the media and financiers.
It involves a surplus of work including the presence at the restaurant, where customers demand the presence of the chef, ready to smile, pose and explain the dishes. Without forgetting that a restaurant is like a theatre, where a new play is staged every day. So sleepless nights, bad meals and family misunderstandings accumulate. Everybody thinks of making an impossible and crazy profession, but nobody finally springs. Why cook for others, says Spanish super-chef Joan Roca, number one in the world according to 50 Best, “It’s the best job in the world.”
What’s your favourite meal at Da Maurizio?
I do not really have a favourite dish as it depends on the day and how I wake up. I can say sometimes pasta, sometimes a good salad and most of the time fish. If I have to choose from the menu of the restaurant Da Maurizio, I would definitely choose the paccheri (octopus), the fillet of sea bass in the Mediterranean sauce and certainly the spicy chocolate cake.
About drinking I’m not a big lover of cocktails, I prefer a good bubbly. From my hometown, a Cà del Bosco Cuvee Prestige to start and then always wine with the meal.
What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
One night I was with the entire staff. At 11:30 at night we were closing the doors of the restaurant after quite a busy day when I got a text message from mayor of my city: “chef, we just finished the concert in the theatre, can prepare a plate of pasta?”
How to say no to the mayor? “Okay, I wait for you, how many will you be?” and him: “Me and the whole orchestra!”
It was so that we found an entire orchestra sitting at the table (54 musicians with lots of instruments in tow) and I with all the staff, launched to prepare the so famous (in Italy) midnight spaghetti for more than 70 people (the orchestra, the mayor and their entourage).
The best reward was the end of the dinner. It was 1:00 am and we were in the historical centre of town in one of the most beautiful squares of Italy dating back to the Roman Empire. The conductor stood up with his wand and all the standing musicians started playing one of my favorite works by Rossini: William Tell Overture Final. Now I leave you to imagine how wild, crazy, fun and exciting it was having an orchestra that sounded to thank the chef and all the staff!
The perfect day off would be…
… on the beach with my dog and my partner…
A day in the life of a chef is…
…supplies, ingredients, food preparing, food testing, customers, WhatsApp, LiNe, mail, phone, Facebook and Instagram, cook and study from morning to late night.
What do you do for fun?
Honestly, my enjoyment goes from a walk to the beach, to Thai food, fine dining restaurant, museums, theatre, cinema, a simple sunset helps me relax but also a dinner with friends. I love disco and classical music, modern and classic cuisine – so let’s say there are many ways for me to have fun.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Da Maurizio?
That every day we strive to choose the freshest quality products to give our customers the best without too many manipulations and with the awareness that every customer has the right to receive the top we can give. Because h/shee has chosen us, this choice must be rewarded with great service and excellent food.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing?
Great food with excellent wine. I have no preferences, only one condition, that both must be good!
What’s your view on the food scene in Phuket?
I think the number of mid-high level restaurants has increased a lot in the last few years.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Many events to celebrate the end of the year.