Have one 15-minute chat with Walter Bandt, and you’ll learn anything you ever wanted to know about this world-class chef — and then some. Sure, there’s the typical stuff, such as his prized culinary degree, and that he can practically snap his fingers and create the most delicious Italian- and Argentinian-fusion dishes you’ve ever tasted. But then there are the details you wouldn’t expect — how he’s lived everywhere from Dallas to several countries in Central and South America and back again, and that he once cooked for Queen Elizabeth II for the inauguration ceremony for her ship, the QU2.
And the Queen is just the appetizer. He’s cooked for Paul McCartney, Madonna, Metallica, and AC/DC. Chef Bandt has been successful everywhere — and now we have him all to ourselves.
“I felt like it was time to come back and see if I can be successful here,” Chef Bandt said. “The opportunity came up to open a restaurant here in Corinth, and here we are — serving the great people of this community.”
He added, “I wanted to create something new in this area that people haven’t had before.”
That “something new” is Bella Maca. The Italian and Argentinian Cuisine opened on March 26 in Pinnell Square to rave reviews because of a menu that includes original dishes and recipes such as the Bruschetta Di Bufala Caprese, Steamed Mussels, Steak Chimichurri Pizza, Braised Short Ribs, Steak Pincho, Penne Quattro Formaggi, and more.
Pair those dishes with a bottle of exquisite Empson and Mexcore wine and divine desserts or freshly brewed Italian coffee, and your palate is sure to do a few cartwheels in your mouth. Empson has been a leading Italian wine exporter for almost 50 years and is a favorite of Chef Bandt. It was founded by Neil and Maria Empson, who now have a portfolio of quality wines from all over Italy, Spain, Chile, and New Zealand that are produced using traditional Old World techniques combined with contemporary knowledge. Their daughter, Tara Empson, grew up in Milano and is a huge part of the business, too.
The icing on the cake is that rather than being another corporate chain, Bella Maca follows a similar path in terms of being a family-owned and inspired restaurant through and through. Chef Bandt partnered with his father, Walter Emilio Bandt, to bring a taste of Italy and South America to Denton County, and the inspiration behind the restaurant’s name is Chef Bandt’s grandmother.
“The name Maca comes from her. No one in Bolivia knew her by her real name; they just called her Maca,” Chef Bandt said. “My grandmother always believed that when she had guests at her home, she’d never go buy food. Everything had to be fresh and cooked by her. That mindset plays heavily into what we do here. Everything is a scratch-fusion kitchen.”
Before Chef Bandt became the culinary marvel that he is now, he was just young Walter. And boy, did Walter love learning how to cook. Beyond deriving inspiration from his grandmother, who helped raise him, he also spent time under the wing of his aunt, Carusa Bandt. Carusa was an amazing chef and restauranteur, and she didn’t hesitate in teaching everything she knew to 8-year-old Walter. From there, Walter and his family traveled across the globe, and he continued to perfect his craft every chance he could get.
By the time he was 23, Chef Bandt was a culinary instructor in Rhode Island. He then moved to Chile to get his culinary degree at Johnson and Wells University and was immediately invited to participate in the inauguration of the Queen’s ship. After about a year, he moved back to Chile and opened a catering company.
With Bella Maca, he hopes to continue taking everything he’s learned over the years and deliver an unparalleled dining experience for Lake Cities residents and beyond. If you need to see proof, there’s a dish waiting for you right now.
“With my culinary background and the inspired fusion that happened after World War II when Italians migrated to Argentina, I’ve come up with a concept to bring those flavors to our local community knowing that no one has that style of fusion in this area,” Chef Bandt said. “This is a really neat restaurant that is only going to get better with time.”
940.498.2730 | bellamaca.com | 1400 N Corinth St., Ste. 103 Corinth, TX 76208
photography by Your Candid Memories (YourCandidMemories.com)