Young Croatian chef Mario Mandarić, who has worked in some of the world’s best restaurants, including Heston Blumenthal’s legendary The Fat Duck in Bray, has been nominated for the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30.
The list by Forbes magazine recognises leading figures around the world under 30 across various industries. We caught up with Mandarić to find out more about him.
Born in the Dalmatian city of Split, Mandarić grew up in nearby Omiš just down the coast. After dropping out of high school, he decided that a career in the kitchen would be his thing and started to learn the craft in restaurants.
“I worked for free in a few restaurants and got my first head chef job on a sailing boat when I was 18,” he explains.
Mandarić eventually graduated when he was already a professional chef and later got his bachelor’s degree in Business Management in London.
One of his early breaks would come whilst he was on a traveling adventure half way across the world.
“Whilst traveling through Thailand, I stumbled across the beautiful bay of Koh Phangan island and decided to do a pop up diner there. My dinner was so successful I stayed there and opened a restaurant which worked once a week. The restaurant was located on the beach where the jungle meets the sea and there was no road access or electricity. The restaurant became huge success,” Mandarić recalls.
After his Thailand adventure, Mandarić moved to the UK where he was the Head Chef of a Michelin star restaurant in Yorkshire.
After retaining the Michelin star, the Croatian was offered a position at Heston Blumenthal’s legendary The Fat Duck in Bray.
Being passionate about food waste and the homeless problem, Mandarić came into the media spotlight when he decided to prepare a seven-course Michelin star standard dinner, using only the waste food surplus from local restaurants in the surrounding area, all with their participation and blessing.
“Having to work with incredibly simple kitchens and very limited food supplies in Thailand, it occurred to me for the first time the amount of food waste I’ve witnessed in “first world” kitchens during my career. The aim of the dinner was to highlight the amount of food that is wasted as a society by creating this incredible meal, but also at the same time to spotlight homelessness in our communities,” the chef explains.
Mandarić says that 20% of all processed food goes to waste every year in Europe.
“That’s 47 million tonnes of edible food. While there’s 33 million people in the world who don’t have anything to eat while we speak. Doing these dinners I wanted to raise awareness about this issue and teach people how they can contribute in reducing our waste. I teach about composting, about using everything to it’s maximum, and share my ideas about reducing food waste at home and at the restaurants.”
Mandarić has returned to Croatia and currently works at Passarola, a restaurant on the island of Hvar, where he says he is ‘exploring forgotten Dalmatian cuisine’ and trying to bring it back to life using modern cooking.
“I would say my style of cooking is progressive-modern but built on French techniques. It’s a clash of modern meets forgotten,” he says.
Mandarić has accomplished a lot at a young age and this has been recognised with his nomination for Europe.
“Being nominated for Forbes 30 Under 30 came as a surprise. Especially because i didn’t even know about that list. I just got an email one day congratulating me on my nomination, and an invite link to an interview with Forbes,” Mandarić said.
He may or may not make the final list but the Split-born chef says that just being nominated is a huge thing for him.
“I am really glad that a magazine like Forbes noticed my efforts in reducing food waste.”