There are no tantrums in the kitchen of Fernando Trocca, Executive Chef at Gaucho, but there are some serious steaks. He explains the Argentinean way to Ellen Hardy.
Why work for an Argentinean restaurant chain?
I was invited to London to see Gaucho and I had a big surprise, because usually all the Argentinean restaurants outside Argentina
are almost the same... they show the typical things like ponchos and the gauchos, but not very nice. It’s like if you open a Mexican restaurant and you only put the big Mexican hat, when you can show many things from Mexico.
Is there an authentic Argentinean cuisine?
It’s very difficult to talk about Argentinean food because we have a lot of influence from European people that came to Argentina as immigrants... but all the typical Argentinean dishes we have in Gaucho for sure – like steaks, obviously, like the sauces for steaks.
What will the Gaucho menu look like in Beirut?
We’re going to start with the same menu that we have in London, but I think we can try to put more Lebanese ingredients, because I can feel that people here have a lot of passion and love for food. We have a typical sausage from Argentina called chorizo, but here maybe we can do a lamb sausage, or maybe we can use more aubergine, or use local fish.
What’s your favourite restaurant been in Beirut so far?
I went twice to a very small place in Caracas Street, they have two tables outside... [TOB: Abu Hassan?]
Yes, Abu Hassan. [TOB: Did you try the kibbeh nayeh?] Yes, yes! Most people say ‘Be careful you cannot have raw beef,’ but not here!
What unbreakable rules do you have in your kitchen?
I’m a very calm chef compared with a lot of chefs that I know. I was working in France and French chefs are sometimes very crazy and screaming all the time... in my opinion, if the chef puts a lot of pressure, the result of the food cannot be good.
What’s the most important ingredient in the Argentinean kitchen?
Meat, definitely! Argentineans eat a lot of meat because it’s cheap, it’s good and it’s healthy.
Gaucho (01 364801) Phoenix Tower, Minet el Hosn. The restaurant is now open.