Mario Goinden is one of London’s most loved cabbies, with a true understanding and excitement for food.
He was born in Mauritius in the 1960s, but was raised in Brixton. Having never spoken a word of English before, he attended a London primary school, only knowing his local dialect of French.
Despite having to learn English from scratch, and being in a completely different country and culture, Mario believes that his move to Brixton is where his love of food began. Visits with his mother to Brixton market allowed him to experience the colours, vibrancy and smells of food from all over the world. For the first time, Mario was mixing with other children of different nationalities – He was eating at their houses, where he was able to learn about different flavours and cuisines.
Mario’s passion for food grew from his family’s cooking, but also his four week turn in the school curriculum of home economics. This is where Mario realised this was what he truly wanted to do.
Mario began his cooking in journey by working in catering. He was taught a mantra that is still instilled in him today – “Keep it simple & honest“. He was learning about buying food from wholesale markets ( Smithfield, Billingsgate & Spitalfields) – the noises, the colours, the haggling, and the characters, all allowed Mario to finally feel in his element.
He continued working within catering, with his next job seeing him cater for high profile musicians. Mario was cooking for the likes of Lisa Stansfield, giving him the opportunity to go on to cook at Dave Stewart’s & Annie Lennox’s Studio – Church Studios – in Crouch End. Mario’s food was getting more creative as his confidence grew, and he started to develop his cooking style of ‘World Fusion’ (while never forgetting to also keep it ‘simple and honest’).
A couple of years later, Mario moved on to work at Smithfield Market. He was the only black man working within the market, which was an eye opening experience for him. Mario made it his own little project to change the variety of food available to customers at Smithfield. He wanted them to be aware of other goods opposed to the usual sausage rolls, quiches, Gala pies; he wanted to build the provision side of the business.
However in 1999 Mario started a new adventure all together. He wanted to broaden his horizons and expand his knowledge of London, so trained to become a London taxi driver. Although his heart was still in Smithfields, being a cabby allowed him to also expand his knowledge of food through discovering the amazing cuisines available in London. Mario was able to reach foods from all over the globe through his new job, allowing him to further develop his World Fusion cooking style.
In 2008 Mario also completed his tour guide course, something to this day he is very proud of, as it allows him to show and talk about the rich Hereditary of his city. And in 2009 Mario was honoured with the “Freedom to the City of London” for his involvement with charity work.
Despite Mario’s career adventures, he has never stopped cooking and fuelling his passion for food from across the world. Mario is an honest, normal guy, who truly believes that anyone can cook. He is determined to make the nation realise that we are all secret chefs, we just have to keep it ‘simple and honest’.