"Today I dare to talk about the New Argentinian Cuisine. In order to do it in a coherent and practical way I give up the word to some of the best local interpreters (...) chosen because they wake up everyday to open their restaurant doors and because they sweat seriously to satisfy their guests. Theu are true cooks."
Mi encounter with the New Argentinian Cuisine was unexpected, rummaging about in books shops in Buenos Aires, looking for some help to enclose the porteña's gastronomy. Suddenly I ran into "The New Argentinian Cuisine", by Pietro Sorba (edited by Planeta), which, in a revealing shock, shows me even more than what I was looking for, with names, surnames, addresses and recipes. I guess this is how the Rossetta Stone discoverer must have felt like (maybe a bit more confused, because the Stone lacks an index).
This is how we get to our first stop, Gonzalo Aramburu's restaurant.
Chef Aramburu's career path seems more likely to be some globetrotter's than a cook's one: he has worked in Chicago, Paris, New York or Guipúzkoa, finally to go back to Buenos Aires to be able to cook under his own name. We can see that in his restaurant they use contemporary procedures as the sous-vide (cook the food in vacuum sealed plastic bags in a water bath at constant temperature) or the dehydration; however, there's also a big pot on the stove with old time boiling stock. The menu is made of different steps, which means that each step is a dish in the tasting journey. There is no classification of any type (starter, main, dessert), which distracts you from the human classifying obsession and lets us eat in blank. The dishes combine the most up to date techniques with the local produce, are they remind me of Noma's presentations (which seems to have invaded the globe's dish aesthetics).
Interview with Gonzalo Aramburu
Nora - From what I gather, you went to cooking school in Argentina. Which are the positive aspects of the education here?
Gonzalo Aramburu - Well, Argentina is a young country really, and there's a lot to do yet. My advice is to go to school in Europe at the beggining, if you want to see the quality of the produce and all those things. I can't really answer the question because I wasn't trained here, I studied here in a school I didn't even finish, but I was trained abroad.
N - From your background in Europe and USA, what kind of cuisine did you like the most or which one influenced you the most?
G A - Everything, I always say that there is always something to learn from every cuisine, much more from big kitchens and big chefs of course. Afterwards you can like them more or less, but I always try to learn something useful for my own style, because what we try to do here is signature cuisine, which in Argentina is considered avant-garde, more or less.
N - Because, what kind of acceptance has avant-garde cuisine here in Buenos Aires?
G A - Pretty high, there are appearing more and more restaurants of this kind.I think we are maturing, the porteña gastronomy is growing so much. Not in huge steps, but people try, they have curiosity... We have a good audience for now, we work many nights with the restaurant full, and many times it's neccesary to book in advance.
N - What kind of audience is Aramburu's?
G A - Porteños, foreigners... As the restaurant is already seven years old, we have a kind of regular public which comes here to try the menus which change every six months.
N - How would you define your cuisine?
G A - Like a restless signature cuisine, of constant searching and personal pleasure, and by Aramburu's team itself. We are always changing what we do, investigating a lot... It's a bit of a contradiction because we have a permanent 12 steps menu during the year but at the same time it's not fixed at all because it mutates all the time depending on the availability of the produce, renovations...
N - How do you see yourself in 10 years?
G A - Initially if it goes like this, right here.The team works fine, we just renovated the whole kitchen...
N - And one last question, if you could have dinner tonight at any restaurant of the world, where would you go?
G A - Uff the are so many...For example, to Atera in Brooklyn, it looks interesting.