Olivier Falchi celebrates 20 years in cuisine in Argentina
A real hit on the culinary scene in Latin America, the Frenchman takes a look back at his career in the Southern Hemisphere and his desire to one day wear the tricolour collar of the MOF.
He has kept his accent from the South West and maintains an all-consuming passion for gastronomy, both of which attest to his French origins and the latter to which he gives pride of place on a daily basis at his restaurant Le Sud, at the Sofitel Arroyo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After a first attempt four years ago, Olivier Falchi has decided to once again try his hand at becoming a Meilleur Ouvrier de France. “In 2014, I didn’t realise how hard it would be in-house to be ready for the big day. It’s important not to have any regrets and to make sure that the dish that goes out represents the very best of me and remains loyal to the work I am capable of.”
Assistance from Gourming ahead of the MOF contest
Despite the miles separating them, he was able to count on the help of Gourming. Not only did they provide him with the products necessary to get him ready for D-Day, but he was also able to benefit from valuable advice from MOF Jean-Jacques Massé, consultant for the Le Duff brand. “Since we have been in contact, they have rolled out the red carpet for me and have provided me with the best possible conditions to go all the way”, explained Olivier Falchi at the end of September between training sessions near Paris, just before he went before the MOF judging panel.
Difficult to find good suppliers in Argentina
For this chef from Auch, it has been difficult to have access to produce of the same quality as in France in his adoptive country. “Yesterday, thanks to Gourming, we received a crate of prawns and they were jumping all over the place, proving just how fresh they were. Today, we had some perfect cep mushrooms. In Argentina, things are a little laid-back in true Latin style and it is difficult to find good suppliers, even when we are talking about simple everyday produce like bunches of carrots.”
Olivier Falchi, a French chef famous in South America
With his capacity for hard work, the chef has successfully made a name for himself in the New World. In just two decades, Olivier Falchi has amassed a number of titles, awards and professional recognitions including Chef of the Year 2006 in Argentina and a cookbook awarded at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2012. Last but not least, he is currently responsible for Air France’s business class menu on flights between Buenos Aires and Paris.
“South America is a land of opportunity for French chefs”
On 17 October, he will be cooking some of his specialities for journalists, such as duck confit or roasted suckling pig in honey with sweet potato and vanilla. “South America is a land of opportunity for our French chefs and we have amazing opportunities here. After finishing my CAP professional diploma at the Pardailhan High School in Auch and when I started washing dishes aged 18, I would never have thought that I could experience so many things.”
Learning to cook on a wood fire
As a member of the French Culinary Academy, the International Toques Blanches association and Luculus, an association for French gastronomy professionals in Argentina, he makes good use of his notoriety to promote France and French cuisine, without ever forgetting to place his host country in the spotlight.
“I have learnt much from the Argentinians, notably how to cook on a wood fire. At first, I learnt how to cook rare meat slowly. In Europe, they teach us how to pan fry, caramelise and then turn the heat down. It’s the opposite way round here. In France, to get a rare rack of beef, you would need to cook it for 20 to 25 minutes. The Argentinian way would be to cook it for between 1hr and 1hr 30 to achieve the same result but without searing the meat so that the fibres remain really tender.”
A second book in the pipeline for chef Olivier Falchi
Whilst waiting to see if he will be able to wear the tricolour collar of the MOF next year, Olivier Falchi will be spending the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere in Punta del Este, Uruguay, before thinking about writing his second cookery book.