Rising Stars in Argentina

By Sarah Fineman

By

Sarah Fineman

Amid the lush natural scenery of Mendoza’s Uco Valley this past weekend, something good was cooking. American chefs Jamilka Borges, Kevin Fink, Evan Allumbaugh, Edouardo Jordan, and Alison Trent were at work chopping, searing, and pairing for a Wines of Argentina charity event held at Casa Vigil to benefit the Volunteer Corps of Dr. Humberto Notti Pediatric Hospital.

It was the second spring these chefs had seen in 2018. During the North American spring, the five were named winners of StarChefs Breaking New Ground competition, earning their spot by envisioning and executing dishes to pair with Argentinian wines. This October, just in time for rising temperatures and budding flowers in South America, the chefs, whose restaurants span the country from Pittsburgh to Seattle, flew down to Mendoza, the crown jewel of Argentina’s wine industry. 

At Wines of Argentina’s “Sharing Vino, Feeding Dreams” event, they put their well-crafted recipes to good use. Seattle’s Edouardo Jordan, of JuneBaby dreamed up a rich tripe stew both braised in and paired with a robust 2014 Malbec from Andeluna Cellars, one of the wineries present at the event’s wine fair. Inspired by a crisp, clean 2017 Torrontes, and perhaps some crisp, clean springtime air, Chef Kevin Fink of Emmer & Rye in Austin traveled to the other end of the creative spectrum with his dish. He served a fresh and evocative prawn dish featuring walnuts, kohlrabi, and chile. The stellar cooking of all five chefs and the evening’s activities raised money for the Volunteer Corps, a women-run charity dedicated to supporting hospitalized children in Mendoza. 

The event illuminated a synergy in the worlds of gastronomy, art, and wine that can only be found in Argentina’s distinctive grape-growing atmosphere. Wine-tasting, in certain settings or countries, can fall prey to the standoffishness of luxurious cultural practices. Within Argentina, though, there’s an emphasis on inclusivity and connection. The country’s world of wine is strong, lively, and collaborative, deeply intertwined with the surrounding art and culture. Argentina’s reds and whites may be among the world’s most finely flavored varietals, but still Mendocine wine producers find friendly, down-to-earth community with each other and other artisans. “Sharing Vino, Feeding Dreams” was enveloped in this multi-dimensional richness of Argentinean festivity. The American chefs cooked alongside a wine festival where producers came to share their delectable varietals for charity auction. Guests sipped and ate in the company of lively folkloric music from group Ay Gualicho. Local painters and other artists displayed their works, and even created on-site series of beautiful wine-painted pieces. The wine wove into the art and the food, the light of another beautiful Uco Valley sunset bathed the attendees, and at the end of the night, $286,920 AR had been raised for the Humberto Notti Volunteer Corps.

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