Argentinian-born chef Francis Mallmann is no stranger to nature and working with wood. Growing up in wild Patagonia, Mallmann specialized in methods of barbecuing food and mastering the art of fire and smoke. Having reached global stardom with an unforgettable appearance on Netflix's Chef's Table and owning several acclaimed restaurants across the continent, Mallmann is still very much connected to outdoor cooking, taming nature and using wood as a sacred material for his craft.
Can you share some of your thoughts about fire as inspiration?
The world is changing. The world needs change. We are changing. I was raised in a household that was ruled by fire in Patagonia. Our outdoor life happened living around fires, on the mountains and the valleys. Fire is part of our collective memory before we are born.
How would you characterize your relationship to wood?
It belongs to thousands of years of culture. Cooking and warmth. The use of fire will be more and more restricted not only by law, but by our will. We are using techniques that, with one dome fire, we can cook for four-hundred guests.
What does wood fire cooking mean to you?
Cooking with fire is a slow language to learn. It has very subtle differences from first warmth to brutal heat. It takes time to understand. Cooking with wood is very different from cooking with propane and electricity; it adds the taste of smoke. For me, being outside in the shade or under the stars is my biggest happiness.
How do you balance your life with your work?
If you love what you do, work is constantly healing your life. To slow down, I go to Patagonia with no internet or phone signal.
What is the message to the world you’d like to communicate through your work?
Affecting people not only with the taste but for the romance of the lifestyle.
What's the best fire-cooking recipe you can recommend to our readers?
The best recommendation is to start a small fire and watch it burn without cooking, to understand the different temperatures and the life of a fire and possibilities.