Argentine Chef Francis Mallmann Plays with Fire

by Sarah Henry on January 29, 2013 · 0 comments

in food books,global cuisine,restaurants

Photo from Seven Fires by Francis Mallmann (Artisan Books). Copyright 2009. Photo: Santiago Soto Monllor.

Argentina’s most celebrated chef, Francis Mallmann, has earned an international reputation in the culinary arena for his innovative approach to cuisine using that most fundamental cooking method — live fire.

Mallmann adores dissonance in food — two tastes fighting each other — because, he says, it wakes up the palate and surprises. The right amount of charring can be seductive: a burnt peach, say, can have a dark crust bordering on bitter, while the inside is soft and sweet. What appeals to this innovator is the element of danger and excitement in creating something tastefully burnt without destroying a dish, staying just on the right side of the line to craft something lovely and luscious.

This gaucho of grilled meat — grilled everything, really — began his culinary career in Patagonia, went on to work in several Michelin-starred restaurants in France, and after growing tired of fussy fine dining, opted to open his own restaurants and pay homage to simple, age-old Argentine cooking techniques, albeit re-imagined with a contemporary, refined yet rustic sensibility.

Read my interview with Mallmann, who taps into fire’s feminine side, on the new site The LiP.

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