We took some time out of our day to interview our head chef, Bo, to give us some insights into his world in the kitchen, what drives him forward, his experiences and why he is here.
So let’s start with who you are!
Tell us about how you came to be at the Argentine Experience
Well I’ve known Leon for 15 years or so, we went to school together in Australia and when he got a job at GAP he promised me a spot on one of his tours around South America. I’d been meaning to do it for a while, so I rang Leon out of the blue to tell him some big news. He thought I was going to marry my girlfriend at the time, but actually it was to let him know that I’d had enough of my job, that I’d quit and I was coming over with no real plans. When I arrived Leon told me about his idea for The Argentine Experience and that he wanted me to be Head Chef and I thought why not!
Were you nervous about moving to the other side of the world?
I wasn’t nervous about travelling, or the work or even whether it would be a success, I was excited more than anything. I was more nervous about seeing what professional Leon was like, I’d only known Leon socially so I couldn’t imagine what he was like when running a business but thankfully I had nothing to worry about! Now I have the chance to run a kitchen with complete creative freedom to do it as I want it, from scratch, which is a dream opportunity.
What were you doing in Thailand?
I’d spent about 10 years or so in the hotel and hospitality industry in and around Thailand and Australia,working up from the bottom, gaining experience in every department but obviously the kitchen was the place I enjoyed the most. I spent the last 6 months working in a 5 star hotel restaurant and worked in my family’s hotel restaurant, but working 14 hour days coupled with the stress of working with relatives made my decision to leave actually quite easy!
What were you’re best and worst kitchen experiences?
My worst kitchen experience has to be working in a bakery, I had no natural flair for it and I just didn’t get it, I hated working there! My best experience I have to say was working in a hotel restaurant on Koh Kumsi, when I first started the resort was only ranked 57th out of 200 hotels on the island. I took everything on myself, completely re-wrote the menu with my own ideas and had the chefs make the food while I oversaw everything. By the time I left the hotel was ranked 6th, that was certainly my proudest moment.
What is your food passion?
I love everything about food, the taste and the combinations you can make with the different flavours, coming up with my own recipes, literally everything! I love cooking for people but I also love experimenting whenever I can and adding Thai twists to classic dishes.
How did you come up with the menu changes and how did you make it more international?
To be honest when I first arrived, the menu was very bland but that’s not surprising as the kitchen was being run with no trained chef’s so I knew I had to change all the ingredients. For empanada fillings I chose things that just went well with pastry, the quality of the meat we use in the stew is amazing so that was an easy thing to get right. The ratatouille I chose because, while not an Argentine dish, it’s a good vegetarian option and looked considerably better than the mashed roasted vegetables I had been using.
Traditionally steaks are cooked on a parrilla everywhere in Argentina, it’s almost impossible to find a place that doesn’t cook it that way, but I wanted to move away from this technique. I’ve got plenty of grill experience and learned how to cook steaks from a top chef, not just in terms of actually cooking the steak but also the work that goes into preparing the meat first. I have no doubt that our steaks will be the best BA has to offer.
How does produce in Argentina compare to other places you have worked?
Well the beef here is second to none, best I’ve ever worked with by a margin it’s so soft it melts in your mouth! Most beef you find elsewhere comes from corn fed cows which leads to a lot of marbling in the meat, I’d always learned this is what contained the flavour, but that hasn’t been the case at all. The grass fed beef over here is considerably leaner yet retains all the flavour, I hadn’t expected that, and it’s much healthier too. On the flip side it is much harder to get the herbs and spices I’m used to working with and when I do find them they tend to be much more expensive, so I’ve learned to be creative with my seasoning! The language barrier has led to some funny moments, I can remember Carla bringing home a lamb shank for me to cook, but it was frozen and as it defrosted a face was revealed, which obviously confused the hell out of me! It turns out Carla had bought cornejo (rabbit) instead of cordero (lamb)!
How are you finding the new building?
It’s awesome! I helped design everything and the layout is more or less as I want it to be. It’s a huge upgrade on our last place, and so far we haven’t had many issues. I couldn’t be more pleased with how everything is looking and I can’t wait for the grand opening.
Finally what are some of your favourite things to do in your spare time?
What little spare time I have is taken up with fitness including Muay Thai, which I’ve just picked up again which is a great part of my routine and makes a nice change from the kitchen. I’ve started reading the “a song of ice and fire” series by George R R Martin because I loved the game of thrones TV series. I try to find time to follow Asian pop culture and try and keep up with anime series when I can.