Martin Milesi x Refettorio Felix

Argentinian chef Martin Milesi is hosting his Una pop-up at Refettorio Felix throughout the summer. Read all about his experience volunteering at Refettorio Felix, what he hopes to accomplish with Una, and his plans for the future. Don't forget to book!

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Since the beginning of June, Martin Milesi has been at Refettorio weekly.  Both volunteering as guest chef and enacting his pop-up Tú. With his cooking, Martin brings his Argentinian roots to London, all the while also referencing flavour profiles and techniques from around Latin America. Our guests love the healthy, zingy and imaginative plates that he dreams up and you can too on Thursday evenings if you book your tickets here.

Tell us about your first time cooking at Refettorio Felix at St, Cuthbert’s Centre?

As soon as I read that Massimo started to support this lovely project with “Food for soul” I wanted to come here and give my hands and my heart to these people. Our first guest-chef session was in 2018 and I remember that morning very well. The van of Felix Project was already here and we opened the doors of the vehicle with our brain already thinking what to make for the 60 vulnerable people who would arrive in four hours. We did a fennel salad with Romanesco broccoli pickle as started, a chicken mousse with Gratin Dauphinoise and, with to emphasize our belief that “Bread is Gold,”an Argentine classic: Bread pudding with dulce de leche.

What kind of feedback have you received from our guests?

I am very surprised how they enjoy food. I really like to cook for them because they enjoy food. One man told me that he was very happy because of the quantity and presentation. He was not full, he really enjoyed every bite, and not eating more than he needed. It was a very nice compliment: An eater who loves quality, and not quantity.

What do you wish to accomplish with your food?

That little short moment where people can remember a flavour forever. Bringing my roots to London, I can share my positive nostalgia towards my origin with people who like to try something new.

What is your favourite part about cooking here?

I feel I am doing something special for the community in this part of London. I have been cooking in the Refettorio for more than three times now, and I can feel already how connected I am with the community.

What do you hope to accomplish with Una restaurant?

UNA is a dream which started in my mind long time ago, when restaurants for 12-16 did not exist. I had no idea how to make it possible in 2007 when gastronomical creativity was focused on the use of industrial ingredients to create new textures. UNA was (and is) a way to put in value the dining room. For 200 years, dining room were the same, people serving people. With a One Table concept, the dining room becomes more important than the kitchen because the client is the main character during the night. At UNA, people usually do not know each other so every night is a performance where my clients decide the dynamic of the dinner. I just cook for them, but they are the protagonist of the night.
What is one food waste tip you can share with our followers?
Make stock with just one type of vegetables and use that vegetable for purée. We did that last lunch in the Refettorio. We cooked a beautiful Italian polenta with a carrot stock, then we use those carrots to make a very tasty carrots purée.

What’s next for Martin Milesi?
Finally, after more than 5 years of popping-up in restaurants and creating culinary concepts I am raising investment for my own permanent restaurant in London. Isaac Mc Hale, from The Clove Club, at once told me: ” A pop-up with no vision of a permanent restaurant, it is just a hobby”. We are not doing this for hobby. Our permanent restaurant will have the menu of “Tú”, a relaxed and affordable fine dining tapas restaurant with Latin American cuisine. It will be also the home of UNA, the One table concept where people will share a unique experience with 12 strangers.