grill | Milk Perfume | “When Peru qualified for the World Cup, Ricardo Gareca and the entire coaching staff came to celebrate” | Interview | Advantage

His first barbecue was at a camp in the middle of the mountains at the age of 9. , chef and owner of El Parrillón, now 62 years old, goes back to recalling the first time he encountered fire and coal. “I caught a yellow catfish, I cleaned it, I took some wire, I lit a fire, I cooked it,” he tells one after another of his Uruguayan friends who accompany him every morning in Lima.

Pablo Probumo Grill, an iconic spot of Uruguayan barbecue, celebrated its 21st anniversary. “El Barrillon opened without ever closing”, he usually says. / Anthony Nino

He was born in Uruguay and grew up in Las Piedras: “where Julio Sosa, the man of tango, was born,” he tells us. In his native land, meat is the basis of his dishes, although cooking it on the grill is not an art, and unlike Profumo, everyone knows how to master: “I always say, you have to be passionate about the grill, otherwise you won’t.”

-What brought you to Peru?

I came to see my father, Alberto Profumo, who was a tango singer and he was on tour. I came to see it in 1984 and then returned to Buenos Aires, where I lived. In 1996 I returned to Lima to stay. My oldest was a bohemian who went from tour to tour. I came to see him again and I stayed for a while, but in 1996 he went to America and I said: “Old man, I don’t follow you anymore”. I am a Peruvian and Peru is my second country. I am eternally grateful because your land is the place that gives you jobs, where your children study, become professionals and excel.

– What made you decide to put down roots in Lima?

I was skeptical when I arrived in 1984, it was completely different at that time and I saw the development of Lima. When I opened El Parrillon in 2001 there was nothing here, they were mansions, and I was alone. Then I opened two more shops, Cafe Montevideo and I stayed at the other Barrillon Pachacamac, which is the heart. We started with the freezer, the grill, and the friends who followed you.

Every decorative detail, every photo and t-shirt found in El Barillon has a meaning and significance to owner Pablo Profumo.  Plus, they are great memories that will be a part of your history.  The wall features photographs of his father and verses dedicated to Pablo by George Drexler.
Every decorative detail, every photo and t-shirt found in El Barillon has a meaning and significance to owner Pablo Profumo. Plus, they are great memories that will be a part of your history. The wall features photographs of his father and verses dedicated to Pablo by George Drexler. / Anthony Nino

Have you always had this design and decor?

No, there was a covered terrace with an awning, and after several years we decided to expand it and cover everything. Next year, where we have private, we want to build a terrace and make the environment bigger, but always maintain the privacy that people want. I think I achieved something when I wanted to create the restaurant, you come and feel like you are in a grill in Montevideo or Buenos Aires, because of the atmosphere, because of the things I did, the history.

-El Barillon’s walls are full of photos, t-shirts and memorabilia…

I have the diaries of the famous Maracanazzo from 1950 and these clippings are 70 years old. He signed Claudio Pizarro’s shirt when he visited Bayern Munich. All the shirts I have are from friends, they are signed and each one has a story. They are from Gustavo Roverano, my mate who played at Alianza; Another played in Montevideo from Sergio Leal’s Danube; I can’t place as I don’t have 90 seats left. I also have a Uruguay team shirt signed by Alcides Kijia who scored the second goal in Maracanazo. Today he is not alive, but we were eating here.

One of the most famous visitors to El Barillon is Ricardo Gareca.
One of the most famous visitors to El Barillon is Ricardo Gareca. / Anthony Nino

-These soccer stars you mention find out there’s a Uruguayan restaurant in Lima and they look at you…

It’s word of mouth. When Gerardo Pelusso, who led Alianza, a great Uruguayan coach, arrived, they introduced him to me and he told me: “When I mentioned in Montevideo that I was going to Peru, the first thing they said to me was ‘see Pablo Probumo’”. I have a lot of journalist friends in Montevideo and I reserved the press box for the Uruguay matches.

– Your favorite team?

I am a fan of Penarol and my neighboring team is Wanderers de Montevideo. When I arrived, I liked Crystal, but because I have a lot of friends in soccer, I like it when my friends’ teams win.

Pablo Propumo has a collection of about 100 shirts signed by soccer stars, many of which are on display in his store.
Pablo Propumo has a collection of about 100 shirts signed by soccer stars, many of which are on display in his store. / Anthony Nino

Speaking of your friends, Ricardo Gareca will also be here.

We became very close friends when he came to the U, and when he started in the (Peruvian) national team, he was here every Sunday. When Peru qualified for the World Cup–which no one knew–Bocha Santin called me at one in the morning: “Pablito, are you there?” said. Kareka and the entire coaching staff came to celebrate and we closed everything for them with the family and they had a quiet dinner. I was very jealous, no matter if my clients came from Kareka or anyone, everyone was the same when it came to service. That’s the beauty of this business, at least for me, thank God the business is going great.

– Every customer who comes in greets you with a hug…

It’s highly personalized. It’s like toasting friends. I have experience with families who came with small children, now they are much older, and they take photos to remember. I have many stories and wonderful experiences.

Uruguayan short steak, Angus cut lengthwise.  This is 800 grams of meat.  A chicken pamplona, ​​a Uruguayan grill style made of breast with ham, cheese, bell pepper, bacon strips, chimichurri, wrapped in lamb belly fabric.
Uruguayan short steak, Angus cut lengthwise. This is 800 grams of meat. A chicken pamplona, ​​a Uruguayan grill style made of breast with ham, cheese, bell pepper, bacon strips, chimichurri, wrapped in lamb belly fabric.
/ Anthony Nino

What are your secrets to a good grill?

I always tell the boys who come to meet me that what I’m going to teach them, they’re not going to learn in any gastronomy institute, you have to have passion, do it carefully and with love. If you put love into your work, it becomes 10 times better than what you do to fulfill it, passion is necessary, then a lot of vision, a lot of concentration. The boys come to the kitchen with a platform, then I prepare them little by little, I always say to them: “Look at me and ask”. I have a lot of patience today.

-In these 21 years of El Parrillón you have seen many changes in the country and its cuisine. How do you feel about it now?

I know it back and forth. When I first arrived in 1984 there were certain places, but there was no ‘boom’ or emphasis or the wealth we had in gastronomy had not yet been ‘discovered’. Everyone looked the other way, but here was one thing that one person realized, he was smart, Gaston Agurio, and he gave importance to those important things – excuse the redundancy – that Peru had. I am grateful that the wave has swept over me. When I started, Gaston came to eat, we met, and his producer left me a card and said Gaston wanted to interview me. He did the program, and a few days after it came out he stood in front and asked me: “How did that go?” Well, they line up every day and I thanked them.

Lead potatoes are cooked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil.  It contains cheese and bacon.
Lead potatoes are cooked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil. It contains cheese and bacon. / Anthony Nino

– How did they deal with the epidemic?

We’ve had great success with the pandemic, and I’m sorry to close so many colleagues. We are doing better today than before the pandemic, we had a delivery experience and it was a big change. We wanted to convey a bit of our dining experience here, we searched for the best containers, did tests, and personally left orders. I had unusual emotions because I met customers who always wanted to come and hug me. Also, word spread that Pablo Propumo was the one who took the deliveries, which to me was normal, but I realized that people saw it as something important. It was a satisfaction for me.

-The kitchen business is very demanding…

Yes, but it has great satisfaction. The number of friends I have made is impressive. Maybe it’s my friendly ‘old man’ personality, no matter where I go in the world, the door is always open for those who have passed by. I was in Spain and it happened to me several times. In Greece we went to a friend’s house, a former Uruguayan footballer, Sergio Leal, who played here for a long time and became very good friends. It is priceless.

At El Parrillon they offer a wide variety of imported cuts of meat.
At El Parrillon they offer a wide variety of imported cuts of meat.

More info

  • Location: Av. 28 de Julio 795 Miraflores
  • Bookings: 014453061 / 998197619
  • Follow them on Instagram:
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Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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