© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WUWM is honoring the lives of Latinos in Milwaukee and their contributions to the community during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Argentinian chef dances with fire in Milwaukee summer barbecue series

Anticipation was on the menu for pretty much anyone who walked by Joel Diviu’s set-up at Zócalo, the food truck park in Walker’s Point.

a hand holds a slice of bread with steak and salsa on top
Lina Tran
Meat is seasoned simply, with smoke and salt, and served with salsa criolla.

Diviu is the chef and owner behind La Mano De Dios, meaning "the hand of God." It’s a soccer reference; Diviu comes from a family of fútbol fanatics. But there was something transcendent about the way Diviu, an Argentinian-born chef, tended to the flames, in this hours-long wood-fired barbecue tradition, known as the asado.

No doubt, it was a feast for the eyes: a wide metal table where several low fires burned. A New York strip stretched on a cross spit leaned into the flames, while racks of ribs and sausages crackled on a grill. Whole vegetables smoldered on the embers: entire heads of cabbages, bell peppers, eggplant. A mountain of onions sat at the foot of one small fire, their skins charring to black.

Diviu used a shovel to tend to the coals, moving them to direct the heat and control the pace of cooking. This food takes time. The chef started in the late morning, and since then, people who walked by took one whiff and asked whether they could order. Come back around 1, he told them. One passerby, who was there for a bagel at the vendor next door, promised she’d return for lunch.

Diviu ran the pop-up at Zócalo through the summer. He joins Lake Effect, along with his girlfriend, Marissa Tapia.

Lina is a WUWM news reporter.
Related Content