Mateo Rios

I finished high school at 16 in Envigado, near Medellín, Colombia, with doubts about what would follow. My father insisted that I study an administrative career or become a lawyer, while my mother encouraged me to do whatever I wanted but excel at it. As for me, with more enthusiasm than actual talent, I dreamt of becoming a soccer player.

Amidst all this uncertainty, a glimmer of opportunity appeared in the form of a free cooking course that lasted a semester. There, I discovered that I could connect my very being and my imagination with the diverse flavors of my homeland. The following year, I was already enrolled in a professional school to study for 3-years. With a scholarship awarded by the school, I left my country to complete my studies in Argentina.

Upon my return, I began my internships in various restaurants in Medellín. Unfortunately, only one of them offered me a job as a kitchen assistant. Over 13 years, I have worked in all stations and positions until I became an executive chef. Carmen restaurant opened the doors to haute cuisine, introducing me to techniques that continue to teach me something new daily.

The pandemic brought great loss to my family. Still, it also pushed me, along with Rob and Sebas, to create the opportunity to open a “fun dining” concept called X.O., where producers and the product are the stars to make space for new flavors and culinary innovations. Today, we are Carmen group, with six restaurant concepts in two cities in Colombia.

It’s been 14 years in this industry; there’s no doubt that my culinary journey has been transformative. In the future, I hope to see a reduced amount of waste, especially the excessive use of single-use plastic and Styrofoam.

What is your favorite street food?


Which restaurant or food stand do you recommend? (Different from yours) (Add its Instagram handle if possible)


What is your guilty pleasure?

Perros calientes

What ingredient do you find overrated?

Salmón de cultivo

What ingredient do you think is underrated?


What is your favorite kitchen tool?


What is your worst kitchen nightmare?

Dejar caer un huevo