Pablo Tacchini is originally from Argentina. After falling in love with New Zealand and moving to Oamaru, you can still taste his heritage in his meals. Since he bought Cucina with his wife about two years ago, Tacchini has been working on developing his cooking style and incorporating the Latino flair into his dishes.
Tacchini’s style of cuisine is a reflection of what he ate growing up. “I guess that growing up with my family made me want to be a chef—everyone was a great home cook. We always cooked from scratch for our family meals. My great grandma, grandma, mother, father and grandfather were all excellent cooks.” Traditional Argentinian barbecuing, asado, is Tacchini’s favourite cooking method—slow cooking over a charcoal barbecue.
Traditionally, Kiwis are more accustomed to gas barbecues, how then did Tacchini adapt and cope with the cooking scene in New Zealand? “When I first arrived in New Zealand it was very difficult for me to understand the Kiwi way of eating. I had to learn what New Zealanders like to eat, the flavours, textures, etc. I had to adapt what I grew up eating in my country. In the past ten years, I guess that my dishes and style evolved into what it is now—my dishes keep evolving with time and knowledge.”
“The latest cooking technique that I started to use a couple of years ago is fermentation. It’s obviously a very old technique, but I started to use it all of the time as a very important part of my menus.” Keeping up with trends and trying new things is a constant pressure in the foodservice industry. There is an abundance of new techniques, flavours, and combinations of ingredients that are surfacing each week. Tacchini had an interesting approach. Not only does he read cookbooks from chefs all around the world all of the time, but he also tries to do a stint in an upcoming restaurant once a year to absorb more information. When asked about his favourite ingredients, Tacchini said, “the ingredients that are inspiring me now—and always—are beef, lamb and the fresh produce from around the area.”
Tacchini happily admits that his greatest accomplishment is “having [his] own restaurant and being able to have a beautiful relationship with [his] wife and children.” He also added that he still has his sanity, something that he said is hard to achieve when you are a small business owner. Tacchini leads his kitchen with a light-hearted but focussed approach. “I try to get everybody happy. There is always time of stress and lots of pressure to achieve the standards we are looking for, but there is always music playing in the background. We joke around and try to have fun.”
Throughout it all, Tacchini has kept his humility.
“I would like to say that all of our achievements are possible thanks to my beautiful wife. She is half of Cucina Restaurant. Without her, this would not be possible. Also, I would like to mention how grateful I am for the great team I have working with me. Thanks to them for their hard work and passion.” Tacchini hopes to be able to continue growing Cucina as well as learning about and developing his cooking methods and style.