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La Pampa: A taste of Argentina in Colombia

Inspired by the flavors and quality of traditional Argentinian cuisine, Marco Torres found himself opening La Pampa Parrilla Argentina, the restaurant that offered what he was looking for.

The first restaurant opened its doors back in 2012. The whole adventure started when Mr. Marco wanted to experience the authentic flavors of La Pampa grill here in Medellin. He remembers that many years ago in the East of Rio Negro, there was a restaurant called La Pampa Argentina that offered the real Argentinian grill and since he missed that place, he was longing for that taste, tenderness, and cuts capable to transport him back to when he visited Argentina, and that’s what made him decide to take matters into his own hands.

Mr. Marco Torres

It all started with choosing the place, training the staff, the name, marketing, and construction, especially because the meat is cooked using firewood. When it comes to getting the real flavor, they had Argentinian chefs guiding and teaching them at the beginning of the journey.

It shouldn’t be a cow…

Mr. Marco explained that we usually get the meat from a cow, and the reason for a cow to be in our dish is either because it just died or is about to. “Cows are here to give calves and milk but not meat. Meat should come from males and these are sacrificed when they’re around 2 to 2 and a half years old. He also explains that good quality meat comes from the steer, meat that sadly is not usually sold in butcheries since is limited and therefore the most expensive”.

In order to get the proper meat, they made sure to have a dealer that would provide them the baby beef meat, guaranteeing it would be from a 2 to 2 ½ years old beef and the proper maturation. For the baby beef the maturation time should be two weeks, and for meats like steak, tri-tip, Chateaubriand, Ribeye, Chorizo beef, it needs a 28 day maturation. Three years ago La Pampa Parrilla Argentina started to raise their own calves, making sure they are getting exactly what they want.

Work philosophy

To Mr. Marco, teamwork is paramount in a restaurant. He says that a restaurant can work well if there’s a perfectly coordinated team. He believes that the manager, sales team, the kitchen staff, the host… they all should be committed to the result, and the result is always satisfactory if the customers leaves happy and returns to the restaurant.

At La Pampa they also support Latin American bands, having live bands playing a wide variety of genres to entertain their customers. This is something culturally very important for Mr. Marco.
There are six La Pampa Parrilla Argentina around Medellin. This was possible thanks to their customers, who kept asking for more locations throughout the city. This was also conceivable thanks to La Pampa commitment to the quality of their food, customer service and respect to the staff. We can also add hard work, values, dedication and a good working environment to the formula for success that guarantees the happiness of their customers.

Something very special about Mr. Marco is the way he gets along with his staff and how they can all speak to him openly. He doesn’t have an office, he believes in a linear scheme where everybody can just approach him. And just like his staff, he also eats at his restaurants every day, and he says that even though he doesn’t always know what he’s going to order, he always eats there, supervises the entire process, pays the bill and leaves a tip.

Barbecue, bakery and sushi

Besides the 6 La Pampa restaurants, Mr. Marco has also grown his business to include a bakery called Dulcinea Panadería and a Sushi/Peruvian food restaurant called Kabuki.

Dulcinea was created based on their need for artisan bread for the burgers and choripanes. For this mission, they have an alliance with the retired baker of Grupo Éxito, who has been baking the bread for La Pampa the last two years. But Dulcinea is more than bread, the place also offers different kind of delicious desserts, like the chocolate cake you can also get in La Pampa.

On the other hand, Kabuki was a side project that started at the same time La Pampa did. After meeting Japanese chef Tomoyuki Sugano, Mr. Marco convinced him to stay with them for a year. During that year they started a school and then Kabuki was born.

A piece of advice

Two pieces of advice relating to business that he learned from his parents are: to feel love for work and honesty. For him the clients comes first and throughout all the restaurants this same level of dedication is given by all the staff. Mr. Marco also was kind enough to give me three recommendations for a successful business:

1) Commitment with the quality of products and service.
2) Respect for the value of human beings and the way you treat your employees in order to accomplish their commitment and happiness.
3) Customers care. Because customers and workers are the base of any organization.

Giving back is also part of his philosophy and that’s why Mr. Marco focuses on his staff and their families when it comes to benefits. He also protects and takes care of the environment, working to recover wildlife and support local football players and musicians that perform in the multiple restaurants.

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