10 Minutes With: Jamie Robertson, Group Executive Chef, Gaucho

The Staff Canteen

Scottish chef Jamie Robertson has come a long way, now group executive chef at Gaucho after a surprising course change at university.

The Staff Canteen spoke to Jamie about working alongside Jamie Oliver, the Gaucho philosophy and what makes Argentinean beef some of the best steak around.

braised ribs  

Jamie started working in kitchens at Edinburgh Napier University where he was originally studying a sports science course to become a physiotherapist. He was inspired by the teamwork, patience and dedication of cooking and decided that would instead be the career path for him.

He said: “Seeing the way the dishes came together and the time and the patience and effort that came with it made me rethink the direction I was taking,” explained Jamie. “I knew I had to make a change and pursue a career in the kitchen.”

Jamie became head chef at Alma de Cuba, an independent restaurant in Liverpool in 2007 and in the three years that he was there, they were awarded ‘Liverpool’s Best Restaurant’ every year.

Such success meant that Jamie’s name became quite the talking point – so much so that he was even noticed by Jamie Oliver! He invited Jamie to work at Jamie’s Italian Dubai, the first restaurant outside of the UK in the celebrity chef’s name.

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As head chef there, Jamie felt that he learnt a lot more about food as a vessel for bringing people together. Jamie Oliver is known for his interest in sustainability and Jamie said that this was also something that he learnt about working alongside him.

He said: “It was very interesting, and more than anything it really opened my eyes to how we as chefs can shape the way food is treated.

Ancho fillet

“I can honestly say that I am now much more conscious, not only as a chef but as a consumer about where my food comes from and the impact it has on the environment.” 

An admirer of the Gaucho brand, Jamie joined the Dubai restaurant in 2012 as head chef, where he was responsible for menu development as well as the running of the kitchen. He liked the ‘family’ ethos of their restaurants and after two years, Jamie was promoted to Executive Chef for Gaucho for the Middle East and Asia. 

Dining as a group (asado) is an important part of Argentinean culture. Jamie said that they ‘try to reflect this’ at the Gaucho restaurants by creating an intimate, relaxed dining atmosphere.

“It’s not always about eating a massive meal but about the atmosphere we try to create in the restaurants,” said Jamie. “We want our customers to feel comfortable and at home. The family atmosphere is the most important part of the asado (apart from the food!)” 

Bringing little touches of Buenos Aires with luxury lighting, the two London restaurants (in Piccadilly and Broadgate) have recently been refurbished with a contemporary design inspired by the striking Ombu trees.

Gaucho pride themselves on their Argentine beef, from Pampas cows that graze freely on the Pampas grasses. Jamie explained this adds to the quality of the beef, meaning it needs very little adding to it before it is served.  

He said: “The quality of the grass and the vast terrain give the beef the amazing flavour, yet the lean and healthy marbling you need for some of the best steak around.”

At Gaucho, the way the beef is grilled is extremely important but the accompaniments are also key. Jamie said that their chimichurri gives the meat a little ‘something extra’.

“It’s a classic Argentine finish and I’m sure that most Gaucho’s carry it around with them, ready for when they end the day with a big asado.” 

To celebrate the Argentinean beef and wines, Gaucho host an annual event ‘Bovine Divine’. This year the event is held this Wednesday, September 21, where Jamie and the team have designed a special beef-centric five-course meal for the evening.

Jamie said: “The idea behind Divine Bovine is for us to showcase the products that make Gaucho what it is. Without this amazing beef and fantastic wine, Gaucho wouldn’t have been here for the last 22 years. It’s another way for us to show how proud we are of these fantastic products and how we have brought them to the world. For the first time we’re hosting the event around the globe in Dubai, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires, as well as here in London.”

Dishes will include a sumptuous coffee and cocoa rubbed Ancho fillet, 12-hour braised back ribs with a hoisin and marmalade glaze, steak and egg served with chipotle ketchup and heirloom tomatoes, and the decadent seared beef fillet with truffle compote. Dinner will be rounded off by a refreshing Malbec sorbet, and a coconut and passionfruit panna cotta. Exclusive Argentine wines have been chosen by Phil Crozier, Gaucho’s Director of Wines. 

Joining four Gaucho restaurants from different corners of the globe, there will be a welcome speech from Matt Ford in London and Fernando Trocca, (chef/patron of Sucre and Gaucho Group Executive Chef) speaking from Buenos Aires. Between courses, Phil Crozier (known as ‘Mr Argentina’) will present a VP D’Oro and L’Oro Malbec Masterclass at Gaucho Piccadilly. Jamie and Juan Pablo will also host a Malbec Masterclass, being beamed directly from Gaucho Dubai.  The evening will finish with a farewell from Gaucho Hong Kong. All of which adds further to the ‘family’ asado feel of the restaurants.

By Jenna Lloyd









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Editor 20th September 2016

10 Minutes With: Jamie Robertson, Group Executive Chef, Gaucho