Meet the Chef: Axell Torres Villa, Head Chef, Bar Patrón

Axell Torres Villa brings a home-grown understanding of traditional Mexican cooking to the kitchen of Bar Patrón

The Rockpool Dining Group restaurant, located at Circular Quay in Sydney, welcomed the Mexican national to its culinary fold as Head Chef in July 2019.


Born in Mexico City, the 31-year-old learnt to cook from his grandmother, who made a living selling pozole and tamales in the small village of Morelos. This home-tutoring stoked his ambition to become a chef and he went on to graduate with a culinary arts degree from Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, in his home city, in 2011.


Since then, the gastronomic traveller had the honour of being a Stagier at some of the world’s best restaurants, including noma in Copenhagen in 2013, Restaurant Frantzén in Stockholm in 2013, and Les Créations de Narisawa in Tokyo in 2015.


In Mexico City, Axell worked as Chef de Partie at a number of restaurants, including MeroToro, which hit Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2014 and 2015, where he was mentored by one of Mexico’s best chefs, Jair Tellez.


Since arriving in Adelaide in late 2016, Axell has worn two chef’s hats: Consulting Chef at Lucky Lupitas and Head Chef at Mexican Society, which was voted best Mexican restaurant in Australia in 2017 by Restaurant & Catering Australia.


Fuelled by a desire to work in a bigger Australian city, Axell is thrilled to be joining the Rockpool Dining Group Sydney team. “Bar Patrón is the perfect fit and next step in my culinary career,” he says. “I love Adelaide but I was ready for something more fast-paced, a bit like Mexico City.”


“I’m looking forward to the challenge of running the kitchen and working with a well-oiled team at such a well-established restaurant.”


Axell’s Five Favourites:

1. Favourite Mexican ingredient?

Fresh limes. When I was a kid, we had a lime tree in our garden and I collected them by armful as we used them in everything, including fresh lime juice, which I loved drinking.

2. Favourite people to cook for?

Friends and family. I returned to Mexico for my mum’s 70th birthday recently and cooked her a surprise meal. Nothing beats a meal with your loved ones.

3. Favourite way to drink tequila?

Neat. I like to taste the flavours, smokiness and complexities of the drink.

4. Favourite food book?

The Third Plate, which is a beautifully written book about the future of food. It’s given me a lot to think about.

5. Favourite thing to do after a hard shift at work?

Hang out with friends. Many of my friends are chefs. We usually chat about how service went in our restaurants, and, of course, eat and drink.


Image credit: Anna Kucera