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Cucina head chef Pablo Tacchini isn’t one to talk up his own reputation – but his food says it all.

Mr Tacchini’s exceptional culinary skills have seen him named a Beef + Lamb New Zealand ambassador chef for 2019.

He is one of five New Zealand chefs to have been selected, all recognised for driving innovation and creativity using New Zealand beef and lamb.

Mr Tacchini has entered the awards for several years and was thrilled to make the top five.

He said he was looking forward to sharing his passion with more people and inspiring a network of like-minded chefs to move forward, try something new and showcase what was possible with beef and lamb.

Originally from Argentina, Mr Tacchini moved to New Zealand with his family almost 10 years ago.

He had worked at restaurants around the Waitaki region including Northstar, Riverstone Kitchen and Fleur’s Place.

Two years ago, Mr Tacchini and wife Yanina Vidal got the opportunity to buy Cucina 1871. They renamed it Cucina, updated its interior and developed a menu playing to their joint passions of Italian food and Argentinian barbecue.

“We’ve slowly evolved it to what we have now, to what we want, reflecting who we are,” he said.

Oamaru patrons and tourists alike had embraced the new flavour they had brought to the restaurant – and their recently introduced trust-the-chef menu was a testament to that.

“It’s crazy the amount of people who are willing to try things when they don’t even know what it is,” he said.

For Mr Tacchini, working with food was an outlet to express himself and his creativity.

“I love to share the food I am passionate about,” he said.

“In Argentina, meat and barbecues are a really important part of our culture.

“When my wife and I came to New Zealand, there was a space that needed to be filled for us culturally to get really good beef and lamb – I have been amazed at the high standard we can get hold of here in New Zealand.”

As an ambassador chef, Mr Tacchini will be involved in several events this year, including a series dinner, hosted at each of the ambassador’s restaurants to showcase their beef and lamb dishes.

Mr Tacchini was chosen as an ambassador from 173 Beef + Lamb excellence holders and joins some of New Zealand’s most celebrated chefs in receiving the ambassadorship.