An Argentine Chef Brings Uruguayan Cuisine to the Latin American Capital of Miami
The chef has a huge respect for Uruguayan ingredients and explains that because all of Uruguay lies near the sea, it incorporates seafood in its grill menus in a way that’s not seen in the land of beef, Argentina. All his seafood offerings are from the wild and all are sustainable and caught in Florida waters. For his meats, he both imports grass- and grain-fed products from Uruguay and uses local Florida beef. And the wood that fires his ovens is white and red oak and hickory sourced from northern Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi.
Crespo gives credit to famed Argentine chef Francis Mallman for the unique style of cooking at Quinto La Huella. Mallmann was a classically trained chef serving French food at his restaurants in Argentina and Uruguay, when he was invited to cook in Germany. He decided to serve a meal cooked the way he had seen gauchos and Indians cook growing up in Patagonia. He came home and began to cook over wood fires. He uses fire in all its forms, from flame to hot ashes. Like Mallmann, Crespo likes to cook with a chapa, also known as a plancha. He uses “the cross” to cook meats for an extended period of time. But the chef’s extensive menu of 46 items includes many dishes which never see the parilla at all. That was the biggest challenge: introducing the whole concept of Quinta La Huella, with its extensive selection of seafood, to an audience in Miami which had no idea what Uruguayan cooking was all about.
The chef’s absolute favorite menu item is a dish that is the top seller both at Parador La Huella and at his restaurant: pesca a la parrilla, which is most often red snapper. Asked whether he ever cooks at home, the chef admits that on one of his two days off, he always cooks at either lunch or dinner. And his favorite thing to cook: the stews he used to make in the dead of winter in Chicago. The one thing he doesn’t miss: the dead of winter in Chicago.
Quinto La Huella is located on the fifth floor of EAST, Miami at 788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, Florida. For reservations, email the restaurant or telephone them at 786-805-4646.