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Mauro Callegari

Chef Challenge with Mauro Callegari


It’s not every day the Prahran Market stage hosts an international television celebrity – so when we do, we make sure we get our bang for buck.

And so it was, when Argentinian soapie-star-turned-chef Mauro Callegari joined me on stage for this month’s Edible Adventurers Chef Challenge.

Mauro, now the chef and partner in The Independent, Gembrook, provided the audience with 4 scrumptious autumnal dishes that spoke not only of his own South American roots, but also of his pride for Victorian produce. He also gave us his best smouldering “Tango the rock star bad boy” impersonation – his most famous Argentinian soapie role.

The Independent Gembrook is known for dishing up delicious regional fare, but is also known for the dishes – all provided by the restaurant’s other partners – the Gordon family – aka, Robert Gordon Pottery.

Despite its roguish name, The Independent is very much a family affair, with everyone chipping in their bit to make it a true destination restaurant.

Mauro even brought along some of his own plates from the restaurant, with artwork done by his father and created at the Robert Gordon factory just down the road.

Here are his family-friendly recipes…


Spiced Carrots

Spiced Carrots  (4 portions)


2 bunches of Dutch carrots
10 g coriander seeds (toasted)
1 bunch baby fennel
1 persimmon
1 pomegranate
1 each witlof
60 ml maple syrup or honey
Murray River pink salt (to taste)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


  1. Peel and boil carrots in salted water until just tender.
  2. When ready, strain and dry off carrots with a tea towel.
  3. Heat up a pan and roast the carrots with two table spoons of olive oil, when they obtain the desired colour add the toasted coriander seeds, syrup and sea salt.
  4. In the meantime prepare all vegetables like a salad and sit aside.
  5. Arrange all vegetables on a plate and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate.

Ricotta Gnocchi (4 portions)


500 gr fresh ricotta
250 gr plain flour
parmesan cheese
salt flakes
1 egg


  1. Make a dough with all the ingredients, do not over work, just fold and press down.
  2. Roll on a dry surface into long sausage shape dough, the cut into little pieces and roll ove a fork to obtain the gnocchi shape.
  3. Boil in salted water until they float for 2 minutes.

Tomato sauce:

1 kg of vine ripe tomatoes
1 sprig of rosemary
extra virgin olive oil
salt flakes

  1. Roast the tomatoes in the oven at 200 C until the skins are black, then pass through a fine mesh colander and mix all the juices with the gnocchi, serve with grated parmesan on top and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil.


MUSHROOM GRATIN (4 portions)


150 gr swiss brown mushrooms

100 gr shimeshi mushrooms

150 gr oyster mushrooms

50 gr porccini mushrooms

200 gr Portobello mushrooms

½ lemon (juice)

200 gr king island double brie

50 gr Pyengana cheddar

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


  1. Break, chop or shred all the mushrooms (as you like it), place in a baking tray with olive oil sprig of rosemary and sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes at 200C.
  2. When ready place in a baking dish with a few slices of king island double Brie cheese and grated Pyengana cheddar on top, bake until golden brown.
  3. When ready drizzle little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.




15 fresh scallops row off
6 diced shallots
3 or 4 limes (juice)
2 chopped green chilli
10g Sugar
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
coriander leaves


  1. Slice scallops length way and set aside with a tea towel underneath to extract any excess of water.
  2. Mixed all the ingredients and marinate the scallops for 3 to 5 minutes, add some salt flakes garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
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