GAUCHO Cookery School with Yelp London
On Saturday 23rd of January, ten very lucky Yelp Gold Members and I, as the winner of Yelp's recent Photography Competition arrived at GAUCHO at the London O2 in North Greenwich for an afternoon that would leave us truly mesmerised. GAUCHO is an Argentinian restaurant that first opened in Amsterdam and is now globally renown for its outstanding quality and cuts of beef. GAUCHO's Argentinian heritage, full of hospitality, generosity and warmth gives customers the opportunity to attend a Cookery Masterclass at the London 02 in North Greenwich for those who want to know how to prepare and cook beef just like the experts in a fun and relaxed environment. Fernando Laroude, Head Chef of Gaucho hosts these masterclasses with his formidable team of chefs in the GAUCHO kitchen. Fernando explained to me at the dinner table that he's been working for GAUCHO for seven years and his love for travelling and led him to work in countries such as France and Spain, where his passions for cooking was clearly able to flourish. I'll admit I was initially a little scared that the class would be something like Masterchef, getting sworn and screamed at like a nightmare episode of one of Gordon Ramsey's shows. The team at GAUCHO however, were SO impressively warm and welcoming and were there to help and assist rather than judge or critique our cooking.
We headed down to Gaucho's kitchen and eagerly gathered round to listen to Fernando tell us a bit about the importance of meat within Argentinian cuisine and what type of meat they use at GAUCHO. Argentinians, Fernando explained, eat far more meat than Brits (8 days a week he said!) and so the welfare of their animals and the quality of meat is taken very seriously. He also added that Argentinian food has a lot of influence from Spanish, French and Mediterranean cooking, especially in terms of its freshness and excellent quality of meat.
Head Chef, Fernando Laroude preparing some raw slices of Fillet beef with their homemade chimicurri for us to try.
Gaucho uses beef that come from steers: these are castrated male bulls and GAUCHO has chosen to use this type of bull as the quality of the meat is better. The climate in Argentina is optimal for the steers too: the warm temperature in the southern hemisphere means the animals are thoroughly grass-fed in natural outdoor conditions. When the steers are put down using a method that aims to be the most humane possible for the animal, the carcasses are hung up so that the muscle can turn to meat. The meat is then vacuum packed before it is imported to the restaurant and Fernando stated that it takes about 45 days from the steer's death before the meat arrives in the restaurant. This gives the meat time to mature and become tender.
The Sirloin, Fillet and Ribeye beef that we learnt to prepare and cook.
Gaucho have very carefully chosen the suppliers for their beef and they import this meat to the same 12 restaurants in the U.K and their sibling restaurants in Hong Kong and Dubai. Over the course of the afternoon, Fernando demonstrated how to cut and prepare Fillet, Sirloin and Ribeye beef and then taught us how to make our own chimichurri, (made from garlic, onion, parsley and red pepper lots of olive oil and seasoning) and a marinade of garlic, parsley and olive oil.
In Argentina, barbecues are called asados and are a very important part of their food culture. They are not like American or British barbecues though where we use sausages, beef patties and skewers of food on sticks. In Argentina they use a whole hog or animal and place it on the grill. Before eating all of the food together in a beautiful private dining room, Fernando showed us how to cook our cuts of beef on the grill and we all joined together to watch our masterpieces sizzle. The meat was so tender, succulent and flavoursome and I couldn't believe how simple it was to prepare and cook the meat. It proves how important the quality of beef as the fundamental part of the meal. We were in complete heaven; and paired with some Argentinian red wine, salad and fresh chips, it was the perfect afternoon.
I didn't only leave with a new knowledge of how to prepare, cook and marinate beef as they do in Argentina, I also came away totally inspired by the work of the team at GAUCHO. Fernando, Gerrard, James and everyone there were extremely humble and I'd like to say a big Thank You to them and all the staff at the restaurant, least to mention a round of applause to Alex Shebar from Yelp for organising the event. I met loads of other foodies who were equally left dazzled by their time spent here and I'm sure we will certainly all be back soon. Take a look at this album of photographs that I took from the event.