Mario Mandarić was born in the Dalmatian city of Split, but he grew up in the nearby town of Omiš. As a teenager he decided to enrol himself at Culinary School in Omiš because, as he says, “all of his friends decided to enrol themselves there too. ” After failing the first year and being told that he will never become a chef, he dropped out of high school, he was keen to gain more knowledge.
After dropping out of school, Mario started volunteering at local restaurants, and later on, finished a course in a private Culinary School. The breakthrough point for Mario was his trip to Thailand. He stumbled across the bay of Koh Phangan and liked it so much that he decided to do a pop up dinner there. It was such a massive success and a positive experience that it made him stay and open a restaurant.
Located on the beach, surrounded with nothing but the jungle and sea, with no electricity or a road access, the restaurant provided a unique dining experience. In fact, it was so “novel” that some major celebrities like Robert Downey Jr., Quentin Tarantino, Michelle Pffeifer had to make a lunch stop.
After his Thailand adventure Mario moved to United Kingdom where he worked in “The Fat Duck”, a renowned restaurant in possession of 3 Michelin stars, and the fastest restaurant in the UK to earn three Michelin stars. He came into the media spotlight when he decided to create a special event, a seven-course Michelin star standard dinner, but using only the food waste surplus from local restaurants. His goal was raising awareness about the organic food waste problem in the world.
After many international successes his nostalgia for home led him back to Croatia, in a famous restaurant called “Noel” located in Istria (in croatian Istra) where he did an impeccable job as a head chef until the global pandemic in 2020. Currently, Mario is a head chef at “Passarola” a restaurant situated at the exotic tourist heaven, island of Hvar, where his vision and charisma will most definitely pave the way for the future of Croatian cuisine.