For a chef, a minute can change everything. It’s the difference between an exceptional dish and a bad one or a flash decision to swap tables, which can change the pace of service. At 11:59 am, right before the restaurant opens to customers at noon, a minute is all it takes for a final check. “You’re ready but you ask again, like a pilot in the cockpit,” says Ricardo Chaneton, the chef and co-founder of MONO, where French savoir-faire meets Latin American flavours. Swiss watchmaker Audemars Piguet calls this exciting minute before something big happens the “11.59 moment”.
Inspired by his Italian heritage—his grandfather moved from Italy to Colombia after World War II, where he married his Colombian grandmother and moved to Venezuela—and training under Mauro Colagreco at France’s Mirazur, Chaneton challenges himself with technically impressive food that’s taken Hong Kong by storm.
But a minute also marks a transition between work and play. For Chaneton, that’s trading in his chef whites for something more casual, and picking up his cuatro—the national instrument of Venezuela, like a small ukulele, which is one of the three instruments that he plays at home. “I’m not professional but I love music,” he says. “To me, music is a language that expresses many things. It’s a very beautiful way to take your mind out of your body and just think.”