Imagine the ultimate cooking class, led by one of the coolest chefs on the planet, in the wildest corner of Argentine Patagonia. A few times a year, Francis Mallmann invites guests to stay at his private Patagonian island home for 5 days of private cooking classes – an exclusive experience for guests of Plan South America).
Over coffee and a medialuna, we asked wanted to find out more from the legendary Argentine chef and lyrical bon vivant.
Coffee with Francis Mallmann
Which Latin American cuisine do you find most inspiring at the moment?
I feel many countries are getting interesting, but I think the magic lies not in reinventing, but in embracing a local cuisine’s true roots.
You have restaurants in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, the United States and France. When can we expect something from you in London and what format might the project take?
It is very difficult to get fire permits in London, but we’re working on it!
Francis Mallmann seems imperturbable – what frustrates you?
I am a very patient man. Rudeness, I don’t like.
Aside from your own, Patagonia Sur, which restaurant do you most recommend to friends visiting Buenos Aires?
How do you see Argentina’s gastronomy evolving over the next ten years?
There will continue a language of Avant Garde modernism, but I believe purism is the right path.
How might a typical day look for those fortunate enough to reach your fabled Patagonian island?
Well, a hearty breakfast followed by a 6 hour cooking class with fires. A walk, some fishing, old movies, drinks and dinner!
Alive or dead, who would you most like to host on La Isla?
W H Auden, Anna Akhmatova and Luis Borges.
What do you never travel without?
My sewing equipment and watercolours.
For someone to understand more about the Argentina you so love, which writer and piece of music would you recommend they look into?
Listen to Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramírez.
Read Far Away and Long Ago by W H Hudson.
What do you hope will be your greatest legacy?
The quality of cooking language.