Last week I gave Narda Lepes some love, even though the jury’s still out on whether or not I actually like her. This week’s Argentine chef I decided to write about is Francis Mallmann, badass of Patagonia. If you live in BA and are prone to channel surfing (zapping, as it’s called here) you’ve probably seen this dude cooking up a storm in the middle of the rustic wilderness, surrounded only by a huge fire pit, big iron pots and a beret. He’s one of the more prolific chefs here and has quite the respectable trajectory. His early years were marked by a dedication to French haute cuisine (for which he became famous here in the Arg), but his career changed in the 1990s when he decided to return to the simplistic roots of the Patagonian style cooking of his childhood.
He has since become world-famous for his three restaurants: Patagonia Sur in La Boca, 1884 in Mendoza and Garzón in Uruguay (near José Ignacio). Rather than rely on various complicated kitchen gadgets, Mallmann just needs a big open fire, a cast iron griddle (plancha), cast iron pots and maybe a huge rock or two. It’s actually pretty incredible to watch him cook – ok, watch him cook on TV – since he really seems to thrive on such simple but foolproof techniques to create amazing dishes with basic ingredients.
Patagonia Sur is known as one of the most expensive restaurants in Buenos Aires (for serious), and Garzón was listed in the New York Times as a Top-10 restaurant worth a plane ride. So it should go without saying that if you want to sample what’s supposed to be one of the best meals of life, you might want to empty your piggy bank, and then some, first. (Patagonia Sur has received mixed reviews from many who think the prices are just out of this world ridiculous. Though I’ve never been there I kind of feel like their complaints might be justified. Still dying to go to Garzón, however.)
Grillmasters can pick up his cookbook Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way (aka FIRE, Lots and lots of FIRE) and whip up some amazeballs things like rabbit, grilled octopus, and lots of other things that require a badass grill/parrilla.
Fun fact: Mallmann speaks four languages and loves poetry. Awwwwww.
For a longer, probably better written article on Mallmann head on over to this website.