Chef Mauro Callegari travelled the world before coming to rest at The Independent Gembrook. Born in Argentina, Mauro’s kitchen skills developed early under the watchful eye of his mother in the Callegari family restaurant in the Buenos Aires suburb of La Paternal (notable for being home to Maradona’s first professional team).
After serving a long apprenticeship in five-star Argentinian hotels and restaurants, Mauro moved to London to be part of the opening team of Conran’s Almeida Restaurant in 2001, under Michelin star chef Chris Galvin. A Melbourne resident since 2003, Mauro’s skills have been honed in the kitchens of the city’s most respected chefs including Marcus Moore at Sofitel and Raymond Capaldi at Fenix.
At The Independent Gembrook, Mauro has designed a modern Argentinian menu with the sophistication and flair harvested from working in highly regarded kitchens in Melbourne, London and Buenos Aires.
Mauro welcomed Jessica Zamora as his business partner in 2017. Mauro and Jess begun their working relationship back in 2005 at Richmond’s ‘Fenix’. Jess was the Wedding and Event coordinator. In 2008 Jess hosted events with the Hilton hotel in Whistler, Canada, after travelling throughout Eastern Europe.
Upon returning from her trip Jess reunited with previous employer of Fenix, Raymond Capaldi and became part owner of CBD restaurant- HARE & GRACE. The restaurant closed its doors in 2015 due to a refurbishment of the Rialto tower. Jess found herself in search of a new venture. She brings her hospitality, marketing and Wedding sales background to the team.
Manuel was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Manuel discovered his passion for cooking at the age of 14 as he cooked alongside his grandmother. He enjoyed hosting dinner parties for friends and family, and testing recipes he had found in magazines.
In 2004 Manuel relocated to Melbourne to complete his studies in hospitality management. His first job was a Commi chef at Fenix, where he first met Mauro. Manuel also worked at Café Cucina with Carmine Constantine, Mandala Winery with Neil Cunningham (and Mauro once again) and The Builders Arms Hotel with Andrew McConnell. Throughout the years, between jobs, Manuel and Mauro always remained in touch. Mauro became a mentor to Manuel. Mauro advised him about career moves, how to develop as a chef and he also suggested places to dine at for inspiration.
In 2011 Mauro and Manuel joined forces once again. Mauro invited Manuel to step into his first ever role as Head Chef in the Events department at True South Restaurant and Bar, Black Rock.
In 2014 Mauro found himself opening a restaurant with the Gordon family in Gembrook. That year Manuel was asked to be Head Chef of The Independent . Manuel accepted and has been in this role since the opening.