Food & Wine In Madrid: A Chat With Chef Agus Ballina

Passion for food and its art is global. It knows not age, gender, shape nor size. Those that use a knife and create give us an experience through their eyes – similar to a filmmaker or musician taking us on a journey with their art.

Agus Ballina is an Argentine chef based in Madrid, Spain. After graduating from the Argentina Institute of Gastronomy she has gone on to work all around the world, culminating in a 6 year experience as head chef of the Cirque du Soleil. Having cooked in over 30 cities including Paris, Tokyo, London and New York, she now Madrid home.  We tracked down Chef Agus Ballina in Madrid to get her view on a historical marriage of grape and grain, as well as her inspirations to create.

What is your personal philosophy about cooking?

I am a very curious person; I never get tired of trying new things or experimenting with ingredients and techniques, instead of becoming set on one style of food the more I eat the more I want to try. This also applies to wine! Every time I go to buy a bottle, I choose something new. Given the chance of familiar territory or a new experience, the new experience always wins!

Surely you must have a favourite style of wine?Chef Agus Ballina ILTG

Ok, I confess that I am a big fan of Argentinian Malbec. Ordinarily I don’t have a favourite brand but the Catena family have always delivered high quality wines with freshness and verve. This past summer I also discovered a white wine in Croatia that blew my mind, Luris Silvanac, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc with amazing character.

Does wine play a part in your life?

Yes! When I started learning about wine in culinary school it caught my attention immediately; the concept of finding different layers of smells and flavors in each glass was like magic to me as a junior chef. On a personal level, wine was the first alcohol I ever tried and that brings back fond memories of home: Sunday family lunch, a big long table, the aromas of freshly cooked tomato sauce… Now I enjoy a glass to relax after a long, rewarding shift where the wine can express itself in it’s own hedonistic space.

Chef Agus now operates out of Madrid offering both private dining experiences, and intimate cooking classes. To find out more about Agus and her services, please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Contributor: Fintan Kerr is an English wine professional based in Barcelona, Spain. Owner of Wine Cuentista, he spends his time studying for exams, visiting local wineries and organizing wine tastings to showcase the beauty of Spanish and Catalan wines.