Cover Photo: Affa Chan/Tatler Hong Kong

After a challenging day in the kitchen, head chef of Latin American restaurant MONO in Central uses music to decompress

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”.

Above Videography: Kevin Cheung/Tatler Hong Kong

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.”

He remembers his grandfather playing tango music on the accordion and drinking maté, a traditional South American caffeine-rich infused drink like tea. His step-father was an avid collector of vinyls too: African folk, traditional Venezuelan and Colombian tracks, Elton John and The Beatles that he played on a turntable in his studio. Saturdays were for music, listening to songs and jamming along, he says.

On a vibrant blue-tiled wall at his first restaurant MONO, faded vinyls passed down from his music-loving step-father take centre stage. Now Chaneton draws links between jazz where “you play something you’ve never played before with notes you know,” and being in the kitchen. “Where how you’re feeling in that moment can give you a completely different flavour.”

Ricardo Chaneton seeks style and precision

Polish and perfection are at the core of everything chef Ricardo Chaneton does, but that’s even more true when it comes to the kitchen where he crafts aesthetic plates of food that celebrate the flavours of his homes around the world. His choice of watch is no different. The Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet Selfwinding Chronograph in a sleek hue evokes style and precision with its myriad of details invisible to the naked eye.

The smoked grey sunburst lacquered dial and the 18-carat white gold bezel, lugs and case back are subtly enhanced by an 18-carat pink gold middle case, which foregrounds the case’s multifaceted architecture and refined hand-finishing techniques. Both stylish and practical, it can endure the high-intensity environment of MONO, evenings spent in jazz bars and the strumming of a guitar.

The innovative design of this Selfwinding Chronograph is combined with the Manufacture’s age-old craftsmanship—much like MONO’s traditional French technique and creative Latin American flavours—which allows the chef to keep time accurately. This is ultimately the difference between an exceptional restaurant-worthy meal and a bad one. Every minute counts.

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  • HairCooney Lai
  • Make-UpMegumi Sekine
  • GroomingMegumi Sekine
  • StylingVeronica Li
  • Stylist's AssistantJulia Fong
  • PhotographyAffa Chan
  • LocationMono, Studio 9
  • OutfitISAIA pocket scarf
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