We talked to lauded Argentinian chef Fernando Trocca about empanadas, the importance of meat, and his chic new restaurant, Orilla, Buenos Aires.

Argentinian-born chef and restaurateur Fernando Trocca – who has co-curated a special Argentinian Tasting Notes itinerary with us – has built an international reputation for simple, stylish cooking combined with the architectural sensibility of his restaurants. From prestigious Sucre in Buenos Aires to the seasonal, communal feel of Uruguay’s Santa Teresita Counter, Trocca’s approach to food has always been focused on fresh, local ingredients prepared in exciting and unexpected arrangements. 

We fired some questions over to Fernando about what you can expect when eating your way around Argentina on a Black Tomato getaway – from the importance of meat to the role of tradition in Argentinian cuisine. 

What’s the single most essential ingredient in Argentinian cuisine? 

Meat, without a doubt. 

Imagine I’m going to sit down with a typical Argentine family to eat dinner. What’s on the menu? 

You’d be eating things such as chorizo, blood sausage, breaded steak, grilled strip steak and salad. It’s simple and, as I said above, meat is a huge cornerstone of the diet – particularly beef.

What sparked your interest in food? 

I find food to be an inspiration and way of paying homage to others. We learn from our families, and from the meals we share with them.

Let’s talk Empanadas. What is it about this dish that makes it so iconic, so central a part of Argentine cuisine? 

Not only in Argentina are they so popular. Most Hispanic countries have some version of the empanada. Some are fried and some are baked. What makes them so versatile and practical are the many possibilities of fillings and recipes; with a creative and applied hand, one can achieve a truly distinctive product.

I’ve heard that Argentina, unlike the rest of South America, prefers parsley over cilantro. Why is that? 

It’s true – Argentina is the only South American country that does not consume cilantro. This is mainly due to our Spanish and Italian roots, which have had a big influence on the food we eat and prepare today.

Tell me about Sucre – your restaurant in Buenos Aires, and about Orilla Bar – your new venture in the city.

We opened Sucre eighteen years ago with three distinct staples – the Kitchen, Bar and Wine store. This concept has endured with great success and has allowed us to expand to Europe, and more precisely to London – which will be opening in 2020. In the meantime I am focused on Orilla Bar and Grill, which we recently opened in Buenos Aires and will be opening within the next two months a location in Miami inside the new Urbanica Euclid Hotel.

Restaurants and delis are fine, of course. But tell me about the local, hidden delicacies I need to try when I go there. 

Orilla for sure! Because some of the best Argentinian restaurants have a laid-back feel, you should also try A Nos Amours, which is a French bistro on a quiet corner in a very non-touristy part of Palermo. Comfortable and familiar, it’s a memorable local eatery. Chori serves up mouth-watering choripan, the most ubiquitous street food in Argentina.

How has Argentine cuisine changed over your career – if at all? And, if it has changed, what’s the cause? 

Argentine cuisine has not changed much. It is very traditional and has remained so, meaning it has not been affected by fads or passing styles. 

What’s the next big trend in Argentine eating? 

There is no current trend right now. However, we are beginning to see how people are valuing and focusing more on healthy eating based on elemental products. This comes back to the importance of simplicity and fresh ingredients.

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There’s more to Argentina than food (but food is still very important, of course). From wild Patagonia to bustling Buenos Aires, we can cater for any type of holiday to this thriving nation.

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