From humble beginnings…
Buen Ayre chef John Patrick Rattagan was born in Buenos Aires on the 24th of January, 1965. His Irish mother Sally Rattigan and Irish-Argentine father Johnnie Rattagan ran a farm in Baradero, in the province of Buenos Aires. As the eldest son in a large family, John was from age 10 in charge of the sacred asado (barbecue) on Sundays and at special family reunions.
In Argentina, absolutely everything is celebrated with an ‘asado’, from christenings and weddings to birthdays and farewell parties, so he was kept busy every weekend.
By the time he left home at age 18, he was already regarded as an ‘experto’. He continued to be the ‘asador’ of choice among his friends and relatives whenever there was a social gathering.
He kept up his carnal hobby after moving to London in 1990 , assisting at the annual barbecues of the Anglo-Argentine Society and at dozens of private parties. He studied Photography in Tower Hamlets and then went on to take an Upper Second Class degree in Fine Arts at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design in 1997.
In the Summer of 2003, he took up the post of Grill Chef at the Duke of Edinburgh pub in Brixton. Here he became known as Cacho Gómez, his alter ego, taking on the persona of an ex-bus driver from Merlo, a rundown suburb of Buenos Aires, who’d come to the UK to work as a ‘parrillero’ or griller. Cacho Gómez sent regular “niusleters” to the Argentine expat community – he proved a popular correspondent, acquiring mythical status with his tales of the joys and pains of an immigrant worker.
Encouraged by the Brixton experience, John decided to open the first authentic Argentine charcoal grill in the country. After a long search for suitable locations, he discovered Broadway Market, a cobbled street in the heart of Hackney. It was like a passage in old San Telmo and he fell in love with the place straight away. Once the building work was done and the movable grill installed, Santa María del Buen Ayre opened to the public with fire and festivities on the 18th of December 2004 and was warmly welcomed by public and press alike.
It gives John and his staff great pleasure to be serving a true ‘parrillada’ in this great city, promoting Argentine beef as well as the lifestyle and culture of the neighbourhood grill.
John Rattagan, Chef cook