People 2 minutes 15 February 2024

Behind the Dish: How Davide Garavaglia Cooks His Signature Red Cliff Creation

A dive into the mind of a culinary rising star.

In the era when chefs are busy gracing TV screens and collaborating on pop-up events, one chef ignores all the limelight and keeps his head down to concoct meals that live up to the world-renowned Chef Mauro Colagreco, his mentor’s reputation.

With legs crossed and a lit cigarette in his hand after hours, and a demeanour akin to a Frenchman, one may easily assume Davide Garavaglia is a young European rebel with a taste for street rap, escaping for a fresh new life chapter in the Land of Smiles at first glance. Yet, he appears somewhat shyish with a glimpse of curiosity. The more you converse with him, the more you realise he is simply a passionate young Italian whose mind revolves around food, aiming to be nothing but the finest in his art. Having trained with world-class masters such as Colagreco and Pierre Gagnaire has helped him achieve just that.


At the forefront of Bangkok's culinary scene, Garavaglia, 34, is lauded by peers for his exceptional dishes, leading Côte by Mauro Colagreco at Capella Bangkok to earn a MICHELIN Star in the MICHELIN Guide Thailand from 2022 to the present 2024. His remarkable skills and talent also earned him the Young Chef Award in the 2023 edition.

The man from the Ligurian Sea proudly brings oceanic Mediterranean flavours close to his home to the serene yet chaotic Bangkok Riverside and beyond. Despite the hazy air of Bangkok, his vision remains clear.

© Côte by Mauro Colagreco

His menu may be seasonal and draw slowly on local inspirations from his years in Thailand, but one dish stands out — it is the dish that defines Garavaglia as a chef.

“The presentation of this dish consists of red mullet, which resembles a cliff surrounded by consommé that creates the visual of the sea,” the chef describes his concept, referring to it as ‘Red Cliff.’

Red Cliff by Davide Garavaglia. (© Côte by Mauro Colagreco)
Red Cliff by Davide Garavaglia. (© Côte by Mauro Colagreco)

Becoming ‘Red Cliff’

It may not have been a lightbulb moment. However, as a protégé of Colagreco at Mirazur, a three MICHELIN Star and MICHELIN Green Star restaurant in the MICHELIN Guide France 2023, Garavaglia took the same sustainable principle from the French Riviera to the Chao Phraya River to the heart. “I have always wanted to create a sustainable fish dish that necessarily does not use local fish. Even though the dish uses red mullet from Brittany, the way of cooking is very sustainable. It is a dish that uses a zero waste technique.

“There is a relationship between red prawns and red mullet,” the chef explains his thoughts. “The colour of red mullet is red because its main diet source is crustacean which gives the red pigmentation of the skin. The idea is to present two flavours that can harmonise very well together.”

behind-the-dish-davide-garavaglia-red-cliff-cote-by-mauro-colagreco1 (1).jpg

Seeing red, he believes that this dish, consisting of red mullet, raw red prawn, razor clam, mussel, red prawn bisque, and red mullet consommé infused with shiso and basil, represents Mediterranean cuisine beautifully. “It is full of the natural flavours of the ingredients. It is also a dish full of harmony in texture and flavours, with hidden contrasting elements that make this dish unique,” he says.

The science behind the dish

To Garavaglia, red mullet is known for its unique and distinctive flavour and texture. In a blind tasting of different kinds of fish, it stands out easily. The consommé, infused with shiso and basil, combines flavours from Asian and European cultures harmoniously, making this creation work successfully.

© Côte by Mauro Colagreco

His red prawn is served raw and marinated with spicy prawn oil made from the prawn's head. The rest of the prawn, including the shell, is used to make two kinds of sauces. The bisque is made with the prawn's head, and the consommé is made with the head and bones of the red mullet. The fat of the red mullet is turned into oil that is full of the fish's flavour. The fish scales are dehydrated and deep-fried to add crunch to the dish. “So, we do not throw away any part of the fish in the cooking process,” explains the rising star.


Secrets to his signature dish

The tattooed Italian takes pride in his innovative dishes, especially those with opposing aspects. “I think this dish represents my personality,” he explains. “The dish is full of contrasting elements and textures, yet it forms a harmony in a single bite.”

Contrast dances gracefully in his creation, a reflection of Garavaglia himself. The warm hues of his signature dish mimic the sunset by the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, adding a touch of picturesque completion to his French Riviera culinary masterpiece. As for the diners? He reveals, “Every time people eat this dish, they are amazed by its balance. I would say it is the combination of harmony and difference that make this dish truly shine."

© Côte by Mauro Colagreco

KEEP READING: Talking Dreams, Sustainability, and Life Lessons with Chef Mauro Colagreco

Illustration image: © Côte by Mauro Colagreco


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