In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15, 2021), we are recognizing some of Morrison Healthcare’s amazing chefs with Hispanic or Latinx heritage. By sharing their stories and culture, we can come together through food, family, and community. This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts.
Argentina runs deep for Chef Sebastian Barrera.
As executive chef at Greenville Memorial Hospital, Chef Barrera is focused on providing not only a good meal but also a great experience for patients.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Barrera said. “Every day is different. In my job, I have a chance to turn someone’s day around.”
But it’s his connection with home that shines brightest and allows him to tell a story.
Food gives Barrera an opportunity to explain where he’s from and what his heritage is. Something that he takes to heart—particularly with his daughter. Even though he’s living in the U.S., it is important for him to teach her about Argentinian culture and where her dad comes from.
“I cook Argentinian food at home, so she knows the flavors,” Barrera said. “She likes the empanadas and even likes to make them with me.”
Historically, Argentina is a blending of cultures and as a result, the food blends aspects from numerous influences. Between 1853 and 1955, 6.6 million immigrants came to live in Argentina. Most immigrants were from Italy and Spain. British, German, Jewish, and other immigrants also settled in Argentina, all bringing their own style of cooking and food favorites with them. These cultures influenced the dishes of Argentina.
As you would expect, Barrera’s passion started with family.
“I grew up in my grandparent’s home. My grandmother had a garden, and we would use that to cook with. I would go pick the vegetables for dinner. Through these experiences, I have always had an interest in cooking.”
And that interest has taken Barrera on an exciting career journey. Before moving to Greenville, S.C. with his family, he spent 18 years in the culinary scene in Miami working in all facets of dining from banquet to fine dining to hotels.
“When I moved to Miami, I tasted the food and thought it was amazing. I knew I wanted to work in restaurants and learn.”
And learn he did. Through his experience in fine dining, Barrera cultivated his skills. Now patients and retail diners benefit from his experience, but it is his roots that guide Barrera’s cooking.
His passion shines through as he passes his heritage and love of Argentinian flavors to the next generation.
Try his daughter’s favorite dish for yourself with this recipe: Beef Empanada with Chimichurri