Michelin star Carito Lourenço’s love of cooking began at a young age, making cakes with her grandmother. Although she was born in Córdoba, she studied gastronomy in Mendoza and once she’d graduated, she went off to try her luck in Europe: when she got to Valencia, she enrolled in a post-graduate degree in Kitchen and Confectionary Management and a Masters in Food and Drink Management at the Centro Superior de Hotelería y Turismo in the city.
That was where she met chef Germán Carrizo and since then they have shared their lives and burners. The partnership has come a long way: they’re part of the team at the Michelin-starred El Poblet restaurant run by the renowned chef Quique Dacosta.
In 2015 they founded several enterprises of the their own: the most famous of them is Fierro, which Carito Lourenço runs. It made its name with high-end dishes cooked over open flame and coals, inspired by her Argentine roots and the enormous Mediterranean pantry she has available to her. In 2021, it won its first Michelin star, and now she’s going for more.
She and Carrizo also founded Tándem Gastronómico, a gastronomic consultancy company, Doña Petrona (a home-made food store), La Central de Postres (a pastry shop also run by Lourenço) and La Petite Brioche (a bakery).
Today, wearing her Michelin star adorned jacket, Carito Lourenço shares her thoughts about women in haute cuisine and the opportunity to promote Argentine wines in Europe, and her plans for the future.
The pride of Argentina: Michelin star Carito Lourenço
What has been the impact on you and your colleagues of being the first woman chef from Argentina to win a Michelin star?
It’s a significant achievement. There still aren’t that many women to have won the award but the best thing about it is that it’s only the first step toward what is to come. I am in no doubt that plenty more women will be winning them soon.
Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to get to know and work with many women Argentine chefs in different parts of the world, and they are all amazingly talented. Women are becoming increasingly visible in the kitchen and more and more are choosing the profession. It makes me very happy to see what’s happening, I believe deeply in the power of women in any field.
Are things changing in haute cuisine? What were things like in Valencia when you arrived, how are things today?
Since I arrived, the number of women working on kitchen teams has increased quite remarkably. I’ve always worked in haute cuisine and, to give you an example, in 2006 I was the only woman on a team of 15.
In 2015, when I started to advise restaurants and was able to see a range of structures from the inside, I saw that the trend is widespread in many different kinds of kitchen. The teams include a lot of women and plenty more are applying for positions. Today, at Fierro, out of a total of 12, 8 are women.
Fierro is a Mediterranean restaurant with plenty of Argentine influence. Are your diners interested in trying Argentine wine?
Yes, our wine list is featuring more and more Argentine wines. In fact, we’re known for offering Argentine wines you don’t often find elsewhere in Spain. We’re actively working to become “ambassadors of Argentine wine in Spain.”
What is your approach to Argentine wines?
We start with the pairings, which at Fierro we call “de allá y de acá” (from here and there) because 50% are Argentine wines and 50% European. We make it as varied and dynamic as we can. When we introduce a new dish, we always look for the wine that will make the best pairing.
How do you decide on the list?
We’ve been adding wines since we opened 8 years ago. We take advantage of every trip we make to Argentina to get to know new wineries and concepts. We’re always looking for importers and distributors who can bring us what we want. Now, with a new, recently opened cellar space, we’ve doubled our capacity and 40% of the wines on the list are from Argentina.
Do you have an Argentine sommelier on the team?
No, but we’re looking for one if you know anyone who’s interested (laughs). Our sommelier is Eva Pizarro, from Spain, and she’s an excellent professional.
Argentine wines have an enormous range of styles to offer, does that come across in Valencia?
I think there’s still a lot of work to be done in getting that message across and we’re on it. People know about the traditional varieties but they’re always pleasantly surprised when we give them different things to try.
Most of our customers expect an oaky Malbec. But we’ll offer a Criolla maybe, and then of course we have to explain and persuade them to give it a try. And that’s a fun thing too, seeing how they are surprised by and enjoy the novelty.
What Argentine wineries do you work with?
Right now, we have wines from Riccitelli, Chacra, Zuccardi, Michelini, Trapiche, Ver Sacrum, Finca Anguita, Onofri Wines, Norton, Vigil and Catena Zapata.
What’s next for Fierro, more Michelin stars?
We’re opening new branches in Spain and are planning to bring a little of the Fierro style to Buenos Aires by opening a new restaurant in the next few months. And while we’re dreaming, why not a Michelin star in Argentina in the future? We’re talking to investors and I think it’ll go ahead. I hope it’ll be soon!