As one of Patagonia River Ranch’s longest-standing employees, Chef Claudio Abraham is loved world-wide by guests for his impeccably delicious cuisine. We sat down with Chef Claudio this off-season to learn more about his background, his passion for cooking, his love of the Asado, and some of his favorite dishes. Read below for more on Chef Claudio’s story and why he loves cooking at Patagonia River Ranch.
Q: So Claudio, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
A: My name is Claudio Abraham and I am 46 years old. I live in Junin de los Andes with my wife Silvana and my two children, Juaquin and Lola, and I have spent almost half of my life as a chef.
Q: Almost half of your life? Wow! How long does that mean you’ve been a chef?
A: Well, I completed culinary school in Buenos Aires in 1998. After graduating, I joined Patagonia River Ranch for the Ranch’s very first season in 1999-2000. I have been cooking professionally for Patagonia River ranch ever since, which makes 20 years now.
Q: It takes a lot of dedication and passion to maintain any career for that length of time. What (or who) influenced your passion for cooking?
A: When I was younger, I was always in the kitchen with my mother and father, both of whom were amazing cooks. I distinctly remember helping my mother make homemade pasta, pasta Bolognese, and lasagna, and I also always helped my father with the Asado.
Q: You are making us hungry just talking about the dishes your parents cook! It must be hard to choose only one, but do you have a favorite Argentine dish?
A: The Asado is my favorite meal and my favorite way to cook. Dishes of lamb, beef, venison, empanadas and chorizo are served all at once. And always with lots of chimichurri! Because the Asado takes a long time to prepare, it gives guests and staff the chance to mingle with each other.
Q: The Asado sounds like it is just as much an experience as it is a meal. Tell us what guests can expect when enjoying the Asado at Patagonia River Ranch.
A: It is no secret that I love an Asado, so naturally my favorite part of the week is eating an Asado next to the Chimehuin or Collon Cura River with some crispy empanadas and drinking a glass of Malbec. We can of course host the Asado on the riverbank or at the lodge. When we cook an Asado we are able to interact with the guests. It is a very hands-on way of cooking. The fun part is eating outside in a place accompanied with ponchos, candles, flowers, and great company. And don’t forget a glass of Malbec! My favorite is our neighbor’s Malbec, the Malbec Chimehuin Reserve.
Q: Sign us up! Now, you mentioned that you can’t have and Asado without chimichurri. What is chimichurri and can we have the recipe?
A: Chimichurri is a classic to accompany meat (eye of beef, lamb, pork ribs, etc). You can’t have an Asado without chimichurri!
- 4 tsp dry oregano
- 4 tsp chili powder
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 tomato
- 1/2 c red wine vinegar
- 1 c olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Chopped parsley to taste
- Hydrate the oregano and ground chili in a container. Wait a few minutes.
- Finely chop the bell pepper, garlic and tomato.
- Mix oregano, ground chili, bell pepper, garlic and tomato.
- Add olive oil and vinegar to create a thick consistency.
- Add salt, pepper and parsley to taste.
- Serve with your next meal of beef, lamb, pork, etc. and enjoy!
Q: Guests must love your chimichurri, and your cooking in general. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received from a guest?
A: A guest once told me “If I would have to ask for a last wish, it would be to find Claudio Abraham and have him make an Asado for me the same as the dinner at Patagonia River Ranch. With Lamb, beef ribs, chorizo, venison, and empanadas”. It makes me so happy to know the guests enjoy our food.
Q: What a compliment! Do you ever let guests in on your cooking techniques?
A: Yes! Many guests want to start from the first minute we begin the Asado. They like to help light the fire, salt the meat, set the meat to cook, have mate, and prepare chimichurri! I love to share this experience with guests.
As Chef Claudio said himself, the Asado is a unique experience at Patagonia River Ranch, and one in which you won’t be disappointed. To learn more about what a week at the ranch looks like, give us a call at 307-739-8093 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to share more of our favorite dishes and ranch experiences with you!