Argentina-born Fernando Trocca is the executive chef of steak restaurant chain Gaucho. He has spent the past two weeks visiting the group's 12 sites and training its chefs. He spoke to Kerstin Kühn about his visit
Caterer What was the highlight of your trip?
Fernando Trocca I really like being in London, seeing the sights and eating out at the many amazing restaurants. My favourite restaurant is St John (in Smithfield) - I love the concept, the simplicity of the food and daily changing menu. But being at Gaucho and working with the chefs has been great, too.
Caterer How have you divided your time between the different outlets?
FTI spent all my days at the restaurant at the O2 Arena and the section chefs from the other restaurants joined me there for academy-style cookery classes. We did two sessions every day: one from midday to 2.30pm and another from 2.30pm to 5pm. Each evening I went to a different restaurant to see how the kitchens work.
Caterer What have you been teaching the chefs?
FTWe were working on a new menu, with dishes including an ossobucco risotto and tiraditos, which is similar to ceviche. We went through the dishes over and over again, from the mis en place to the plating, perfecting them as we went along. The chefs responded really well and were all really interested in learning about Argentina and the food.
Caterer How are Argentinean chefs different from British ones?
FT There's much more tradition in the UK and there's a lot of influence from Europe, which, in Argentina, we don't have at all. Argentina doesn't really have a big history of chefs. Twenty years ago no one wanted to be a chef and, in Buenos Aires, my generation of chefs is made up of about six people. Nowadays it's a much more popular profession, but we don't have any of the big icons you have in the UK and Europe.
Caterer How does UK beef compare to Argentinean meat?
FT Argentinean meat is better-quality than beef from the UK, Europe or even the USA because our cows are brought up in much bigger fields where they spend their lives grazing. It's the same as comparing a free-range chicken with a battery-farmed one. The taste of Argentinean beef is different - because of the exercise they take, the cows have a different fat content.
Caterer Gaucho uses Argentinean beef? What about food miles?
FTAll the beef and wine from Argentina is shipped to the UK, which gives the meat time to age and improves the quality, so our carbon footprint is actually pretty low.
Caterer Does Gaucho have any plans for expansion?
FT Yes, we plan to open a new restaurant on Charlotte Street in London in September and are also looking at launching further sites.