They’re all women chefs from Argentina and each in their own way is bringing out the true gastronomic wealth of their terroir with natural expression and a passion for food.
But they’re doing much more than cooking delicious dishes: they’re telling a bigger story about forgotten flavors and indigenous heritage and creating an unseen network that is raising the visibility of local producers and their wares, regional culture and the abundant, characterful ingredients they use with the utmost respect.
From north to south, these stories about women chefs from Argentina are also those of a journey through different landscapes, recipes and dishes.
Women chefs from Argentina
Florencia Rodríguez, Jujuy
An adopted Jujeña, Florencia studied Political Sciences but was always drawn to food. She worked at restaurants in Buenos Aires and Europe before moving to Tilcara in Jujuy. There, she found herself fascinated by the culture, history and customs of the province.
El Nuevo Progreso, her restaurant, is on the corner of a historic plaza in the town, and her cooking focuses on regional Andean products and the use of ancient techniques such as curing with salt, fermentation, guateado, nixtamalizacion, maceration, cooking on stones, and much more.
In 2021, the restaurant won the prestigious Prix de Cuisine Baron B, making her one of the most renowned chefs in Argentina today.
Gloria del Valle Aguirre, Salta
A champion of the empanada in Chicoana, a town located thirty miles to the south of the capital of Salta, Gloria learned to cook from her mother (another champion of the empanada) going to sell empanadas on the street from a young age to help support her family.
Her hands are her recipes’ secret ingredients, and now they’re celebrated across the country: she has a restaurant in her home town that is an obligatory stop for anyone travelling through the area. She has also won awards for her tamales and is similarly feted for her traditional humita, locro and spicy mondongo.
Gisela Medina, Iberá, Corrientes
The co-founder of the Red de Cocineros del Iberá – a collective of food professionals, both chefs and producers from her region – her goal is to promote the region’s unique cuisine and culture.
Gisela was planning to do something else with her life, but when she heard that the first cookery school in the region was going to be opening soon, she didn’t hesitate to sign up. These studies didn’t just help with her training, they also provided a forum for her to ask questions, for instance: why was she studying European cooking techniques and not those of her own people?
While she worked at different restaurants, she learned more and more about the practices and recipes of Corrientes cuisine. Today, she is a chef, teacher and great gastronomic educator. She often makes appearances at fairs across the country.
Alina Ruiz, Chaco
Alina is the daughter of local farmers and was born in Juan José Castelli, Chaco. She has an impressive CV as a chef and a sommelier and has worked at prestigious restaurants in different cities. But she always yearned to go back to her home town and there, on the family estate, she opened her restaurant, Anna.
She focuses on the recipes and local products to be found in the Chaco bush, rediscovering traditional forms of cookery, eating and traditions that are in danger of being forgotten. She grows her own ingredients on the farm as well as offering rural tourism services.
Paula Chiaradia, Chubut
Originally from Bahía Blanca, Paula studied biology but soon realized that her future was in cooking. To earn her formal education, she travelled around the world and, on her return, worked at different restaurants across the country, until she decided that the site for her restaurant Fonda Sur would be Trevelin.
Her table is a festival of local flavors: smoked meats, goat’s cheese, trout, lamb, local herbs, wild mushrooms and forest fruits. Her mission is to promote the flavors and recipes of Chubut.
Eugenia Krause, Mar del Plata
Eugenia is another of the women chefs of Argentina: she studied hospitality and gastronomy, worked at a range of different restaurants and is also a professor who researches the origins of cooking in Argentina and Latin America.
In 2010, she opened an experimental restaurant space, La Cocina de Eugenia, which has its own vegetable garden and elements to recreate some of humankind’s most ancient cooking techniques. There, she gives her Taller de Fuegos workshop with colleagues.
Today, she is also the owner of Asian Ghetto Cantina, where she serves the freshest possible fish to be found in the city.
Krause emphasizes the importance of the foods of the sea and Sierra, as well as the produce of the fruit and horticultural strip of Mar del Plata and local fisheries.
Diana Méndez, Ushuaia
Diana Méndez is originally from Corrientes but moved to Tierra del Fuego when she was 23 years old. She wanted to see the snow, but decided to settle down there as well: it was where she met her husband and had a family. On the way, she became an independent fisherwomen, captained her own boat and then got into cooking.
In recent years, she decided to move into a cabin she built herself in the middle of the virgin forest of Puerto Almanza, where from October to May she receives visitors who come to enjoy her dishes, which are based on all the ingredients she can find locally.
The experience is called Alma Yagan and can be booked through the Tierra Turismo agency.
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