Chef Talk with Brix’s Mario Tassotti

You’d think that the last thing a chef at a pub like Brix would want in his life is more pressure, but that’s not the case for Mario Tassotti. “I need the pressure,” the Austrian native says. “When I have 100 people wanting their food and I don’t know what they ordered, it’s a surprise for the kitchen and especially for me. You have this adrenaline, endorphin shot. I prefer the rush, I prefer the pressure, I prefer to sweat! It’s fun when the kitchen is a thunderstorm.”

Pressure has always driven Mario to reach further and achieve higher. In fact, when he was just 16 years old, it led him to his first contact with cooking. “I grew up in my grandmother’s restaurant. One day she came to me at six in the morning, wakes me up and tells me I have to get up because there are no chefs left in the kitchen and there are 300 meals to make for the day.” At such a tender age, the boy had zero experience in the kitchen, having only worked as a waiter and receptionist in the restaurant. Once the lunch rush started, he did what any boy his age would do: break down in tears.

Amidst the panic and under the leadership of his grandmother, Mario managed to pull through to the other side and find his true calling. Now, after trainee experiences in five star hotels and stints all over Europe, he is no longer afraid – even when he has 200 hungry diners demanding their food all at once. In fact, he revels in the feedback.

“You go out to the people and ask them if the food is alright,” he says. “If everything is nice, you jump back in the kitchen, tell your team that they did well then celebrate with some drinks… and do it all over again tomorrow!”

With a strong European heritage, Mario is glad to be bringing Austrian gastronomy to the Chinese dining scene. “Austria is very small. I’m very proud to have made it here to Shanghai and to have the opportunity to sell my country’s food.”

It wasn’t an easy road to get here, but he enjoys this mishmash of cultures and welcomes the ideas he gets from his team, learning to allow Chinese cooking to influence his own learning. “For me it’s the biggest adventure. I’m always in a good mood, I’m happy all the time and I feel very well here.”

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