Co-founder/ Executive Chef
ANDŌ - SPANISH X JAPANESE
Born into a Spanish and Italian family, Argentinian Chef Agustin Ferrando Balbi’s love for food may have started at his grandmother’s dining table but it was the summer spent working at a family friend’s restaurant that ignited his passion for the culinary arts. Enamoured by the thrill and teamwork of working in a kitchen, which reminded him of the camaraderie found in football, another enthusiasm of his, Balbi enrolled at The BUE Trainers before cutting his teeth at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in Buenos Aires and New Orleans.
At a time when his culinary counterparts were hunkering down in traditional European kitchens, Chef Balbi’s rebellious streak took him eastwards to Japan – despite never having visited and not knowing a single word of the language. There, he spent several years honing his craft in Tokyo’s veritable kitchens including 2-Michelin-starred Zurriola, 3-Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin, and 2-Michelin-starred Cuisine[s] Michel Troisgros, and was named one of the Top 10 Japan San Pellegrino Young Chefs (Under 30) in 2015. Aside from shaping his culinary philosophy, Balbi’s time in Japan also holds a special place in his heart – this was also where met Yoshika, his wife and the mother of his two young children.
Moving to Hong Kong in 2016, Balbi helmed the culinary operations of contemporary Japanese restaurant, HAKU, under the guidance of Hideaki Matsuo. During his tenure, HAKU earned multiple accolades, placing 58th on OAD Top 100 Asian Restaurants and being named one of Hong Kong Tatler’s Top 20 Restaurants of Hong Kong & Macau for two consecutive years. Chef Balbi was also awarded Best Young Talent of the World 2019 by La Liste and debuted at number 87 on the list of Best Chefs Awards.
Now coming onto his own, Balbi brings his wealth of experience to Andō as Executive Chef and Co-Founder, joining forces with Hong Kong-based hospitality firm, JIA Group, for his first solo restaurant venture.