Pablo Marigliano

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"I always look inwards and try every day to understand myself, given we are always changing, growing, mutating - just as with my gastronomy."

Fotografía de INTERVIEWS WITH OUR CHEFS

What made you want to become a chef?

Before discovering cooking, I worked in various different fields, even spending time as a professional nurse - one of the qualifications I acquired before becoming a chef. I was always interested in cooking.

I'm from a family whose timetables never really coincided and, as I attended a school which worked on a double shift, when I got home, the only person to make my lunch was me: so, that is where I began, and suffered my first cuts and burns!

Little by little I was entrapped in the world of gastronomy, until I realised that it was what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.

 

What is your first memory of a dish that made you dream?

A Lobster was the first dish that really made me dream. I remember seeing a film at the age of 12 where there was a giant kitchen and an executive chef was in charge of all the other chefs. While he gave orders for the day, on his table there sat a large lobster and, from that point on, my mind was filled with the desire to try to cook that dish.

 

Who has influenced you in your cooking style or philosophy?

Really, many cooks have been and are influences on my culinary life, from those I saw in my precocious youth to nowadays. However, I very much enjoyed getting home from school to watch the cheerful mastery of Karlos Arguiñano.

 

What inspires you? or Where does your inspiration come from?

I love music, art in general and reading. I am inspired by day-to-day stuff, my family, friends, students, colleagues - all of these can be a source of inspiration. 

I always look inwards and try every day to understand myself, given we are always changing, growing, mutating - just as with my gastronomy.

 

What is your favourite culinary method or technique?

Cooking over a real flame: wood, embers, barbecue; I always have to have flames, natural or industrial; the smokiness of different woods and trees define my cooking, whether traditional or not.

 

What is your favourite ingredient?

Regional and seasonal produce.  I really like anything aromatic; I can't choose just one, they're all incredible. I learnt to greatly respect each product, so it's difficult for me to choose only one.

 

What is your favourite cooking utensil?

Undoubtedly, the chef's knife.  There is a tool for every task, but everything is far more difficult without a good sharp knife.


What material do you prefer for your pans and saucepans?

Steel: I'm always using iron, so these things need to be looked after and treated to prevent deterioration.

 

What would you like to change about the cooking schools?

For me there are two key lines of work: on the one hand, the importance of reappraising regional, local and seasonal produce.  Becoming aware of the responsibilities of a chef towards people, the environment and the ecology.  The idea would be to ensure that all the produce in our dishes comes from responsible production.  On the other, the schools need to teach and prepare students for a complicated, tough career. They are rarely told what the life is like and the sacrifices we chefs have to make to do what we love. It is essential they know we have no holidays, festive days or birthdays. As an instructor and teacher in gastronomy, it is a great pity to see many youngsters coming to the kitchens full of hopes who end up facing a far more complicated reality and quit because it turns out not to be what they want to do - wasting time and significant resources that could have been invested in another direction.

My intention is not to scare off youngsters full of hopes, whose desire is to become cooks and chefs. Simply put, I want them to decide they want to do so even knowing it is a hard road and that if we could, then they can do it.

 

Your advice for young chefs.

Never let your shoulders droop, always follow your dreams and never let anyone tell you that you have no future in gastronomy. If you love what you want to do, then work harder than anything. The secret lies in effort, constantly training, being a good colleague and friend and in always keeping your feet on the ground.

 

What do you look for when you hire someone for your restaurant?

Willingness over knowledge; I prefer someone who really wants to learn and to train them from scratch to someone with a lot of knowledge and little desire to work.  I always seek out different personalities, in other words I create working groups with different elements to enrich my kitchen.

 

How do you motivate your team?

By setting an example in everything, from cleaning to the interpersonal. Many people are surprised when I hit the basins and help wash plates or glasses - I can't forget my origins: I was a glass-washer. I always try to get them participating, letting them cook their ideas and receive praise from diners; I'm always pushing them to grow.

 

What would you like to change in the catering industry?

As my friend, great chef and Bergner ambassador for Panama, Rolando González says cooking is subjective. There are amateur reviewers who never understand the chef's ideas and feel that if the menu doesn't have cheddar somewhere, then it is worthless. I see many fellow cooks out on the streets for defending their menu and having a culinary identity, many of them who had been highly successful.

Employers should better look after their workers, the people who enable them to earn significant amounts of money annually.

 

What do you do when you have difficult guests?

Nothing. At this stage of my life, I don't share anything with someone who isn't really interested in sharing. 

 

What do you like to do to get away to relax?

Family, trips, music, cinema, theatre and cooking, in that order; in each and everyone of them, I always end up cooking.

 

What pushes you to keep on going?

Success for me is being able to make a difference among those I love and those I manage to inspire to any extent. Success is also working at something you love, anything that comes after reflects the effort and the goodness of who we are.

 

Which of your dishes are you most proud of?

For me, it is important to convey feelings with my cooking, in anticipation of a diner's reaction. The day I felt most proud and moved was during an event held at the Boca Juniors football stadium and with a simple tomato jam: tears rolled down the face of a man aged around 60 after trying the jam, as those aromas and flavours took him back to his childhood. His taste memory transported him back to those breakfasts with his mother every morning before going to school.

 

What is your favourite restaurant?

I always seek out classic, simple dishes made using fresh products. In general, I find good cooking in many cities, but one place that has always stayed with me is in the city of Rosario, Santa Fe (Argentina), called 'El Bodegón de Charly', a place with simple, tasty food.

 

Which current chef do you most admire and why?

I admire anyone who looks after their dishes, reappraising the produce of their region.  Those who work humbly and, above all, look after and teach their staff.

 

How do you think restaurants should be classified? 

By the quality of their products and service.