Francis Mallmann is an accomplished Argentinean chef who’s traveled the world and now employs a repertoire of cooking techniques that focus on Seven Fires. His restaurants include 1884 Francis Mallmann in Mendoza, Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, and El Garzon Restaurant and Hotel in Punta del Este, Uruguay. He’s also preparing to open Los Fuegos in Miami’s Faena District in Fall 2015. He was recently in Los Angeles at Hotel Bel-Air to cook alongside Wolfgang Puck and Adam Perry Lang. I sat down with Chef Mallmann, who’s also an author and regular television presence, to discuss his outlook and approach.
Joshua Lurie: What more do you have to accomplish as a chef, if anything?
Francis Mallmann: I feel that this language of fires is on its way. I can’t say I have embraced all of it yet. There’s a lot more to do. I’m working very hard now on this new project in Miami to take what we do to another level of perfection and beauty and taste. We’ve been working on this for two years now, and I’m really looking forward to it because it’s going to be like a new branch of cooking and thinking about fires.
JL: What was it that convinced you to get involved with the Faena project?
FM: I’ve known Alan [Faena] for 30 years, and the possibility of having a restaurant with fires in America, and getting the permits, it’s not very easy. I’ve tried it several times and we haven’t been very successful getting the fire permits. I’m very happy with it. I think Miami has a beautiful audience of Americans and South Americans. It’s like an encounter place for all these cultures. Our way of cooking will do very well there, in that environment.
JL: When you travel internationally, what is it that you look to get out of those experiences?
FM: In life, once you reach certain things in your work, the only way to grow is when you become more like a generalist. For me, traveling is like going to university. It’s a way of looking into cultures, idiosyncrasies and languages, ways of walking, dressing, music and beauty. All that affects my cooking, a lot. I get very much inspired by all the surroundings in traveling. It’s not only that you go try some food and get inspired. The surroundings are more important to me when I travel.
JL: Are there any culinary aspects that grab your interest in California, specifically Los Angeles?