Brisbane's Urbane restaurant loses executive chef Alejandro Cancino

Alejandro Cancino is leaving Urbane to pursue plant-based ventures.
Alejandro Cancino is leaving Urbane to pursue plant-based ventures. Photo: Gillian van Niekerk

Brisbane's only three-hatted restaurant is losing its executive chef. Alejandro Cancino, who joined Urbane in 2012, will cook his last tasting menu at the Mary Street fine-diner on June 30.

"It's time for me to do what I've always wanted to do," says Cancino, who will be moving to the Sunshine Coast with his wife and eight-month-old daughter. The vegan chef plans to focus on his plant-based product company, Fenn Foods, and open a cafe in July.

Macadamia ice-cream with freshly shaved macadamia nut at Urbane.
Macadamia ice-cream with freshly shaved macadamia nut at Urbane. Photo: Harrison Saragossi

"We've always been aware of his aspiration and that this day would come," says Andy Buchanan of The Urbane Group. "Although it's a mutual parting of the ways we're extremely sad to see him go, however we can think of no better reason for his departure than to pursue his passion."

Cancino is also looking at Sunshine Coast locations to open a fine-dining vegan restaurant in the new year.

"It will be super tiny and only open a few days a week," the Argentinian-born chef says. "It will probably be only one sitting with a handful of people. I think I will cook better than I was at Urbane because I can give 100 per cent of my time to the customer.

"With Urbane, I had to run a restaurant and [The Euro] bistro kitchen, dealing with staff and suppliers, and probably only 15 per cent of my time was actually dedicated to food."

Andrew Gunn has been named as Urbane's new executive chef and has been working alongside Cancino for the past six months in preparation for the role. Originally from Brisbane, Gunn spent six years in Paris cooking at restaurants such as the two-Michelin-starred Le Taillevent and three-Michelin-starred Le Cinq where he was senior chef de partie.

Gunn plans to apply more French technique to Urbane's contemporary Australian dishes.

"I could have moved back to Sydney or to Melbourne, but I wanted to bring my experience back to the city where I grew up and to be close to my family again," the chef says. "I decided to bring it back home and find something I could really put my name on."

Cancino says he is happy to still help out where required at Urbane. "But, I don't think Andrew is going to need it."