One of our newest Ambassador Chefs, Pablo Tacchini is head chef and owner of Cucina in Oamaru. Originally from Argentina, Pablo and his wife moved to New Zealand and fell in love with the historic town of Oamaru. Pablo says he and his wife had dreamed of owning their own restaurant and when the opportunity came up to buy Cucina 1871 where Pablo was head chef, they jumped at the chance. With a name change and refreshed décor, Cucina opened its doors in 2016 and two years on, Pablo has created a reputation of combining the flavours from his heritage with fresh seasonal New Zealand produce in delightfully unexpected ways.
Growing up in a family with generations of wonderful cooks, it’s no wonder Pablo became a chef. He has childhood memories of all his family coming together to cook and share meals, with his fondest memory of food coming from the delicious pasta his grandmother used to make. We are so lucky he found his way to New Zealand where locals and visitors to Oamaru can experience the flavours and passion Pablo brings to all his dishes.
When it comes to cooking with New Zealand beef and lamb, Pablo loves to use big bold meaty cuts just as they do in Argentina. These cuts easily take on the flavours of Pablo’s heritage and cooking over a flame is a key process which helps impart these traditional smokey flavours. This was evident when he demonstrated cooking his dish; 55-day aged rib eye with broccoli and lemon purée, charcoal potatoes, smoked sour cream and smoked red pepper sofrito. Using a beef cut like rib-eye has a good fat content which adds flavour and lends itself to being cooked over a flame. He coats the charcoal potatoes in a black garlic aioli and adds a little hay ash and smokey sour cream to further add those traditional flavours to this dish.
Pablo says one of the best things about living in Oamaru is that he can source so much locally grown produce. Over the years he has established relationships with local farmers and community gardens, so whether its fresh herbs, locally grown potatoes or lamb processed just down the road, Pablo’s dishes all boast a story of provenance which he and the team at Cucina are proud to tell their customers about.
Pablo is a humble chef who attributes his success to his family and the team at Cucina. Being an owner/operator of a restaurant is probably not the easiest path to take, but Pablo and his family have worked hard to make this lifestyle work for them and what a wonderful asset Cucina is to New Zealand’s dining scene. So the next time you are out and about in the South Island, take your time to seek out Cucina in North Otago and take the opportunity to stop in and enjoy some delicious New Zealand beef and lamb with an Argentinian twist! cucina.co.nz