You may know chef Francis Mallman on the hit Netflix series Chef’s Table, which delves into his open-fire cooking method of barbecuing grub with flames, ashes and scorching stones, similar to those used by Patagonian natives dating back some 11,000 years ago.
The Argentinian celebrity chef and author, who grew up in the mountains of Patagonia, worked in some of France’s Michelin-starred restaurants before returning to his homeland to delve into its culinary roots.
So perhaps unsurprisingly, his advice for the next generation of chefs is “to learn, first, the roots of classical cuisine, and then start thinking about being adventurous and doing more modern things”.
“It’s like Picasso,” the chef tells The Peak. “He did cubism, which was very beautiful, but before that, he could grab a pen and perfectly draw the body of a human with real precision. Cooking is the same. One should get to its roots, study its history, practise it, and then be modern.”
In this vein, Mallmann is all about passing on knowledge, whether it’s to apprentices in his restaurants, or to peers in Singapore. The chef is in town for a couple of pop ups this month, one at Michelin-plate tze char eatery Keng Eng Kee to launch a meat-free satay using GOOD Meat from US brand Eat Just, and another to cook at Fullerton Hotel’s Clifford Pier from May 22 to 30.
While he’s here, he’s absorbing all the Republic has to offer, markets and street food in particular.
“I was sort of ‘buried’ in a-metre-and-a-half of snow 10 days ago in Patagonia. Now that I’m here, I love to see the architecture in Singapore, and the buildings embraced by greenery,” Mallmann says,
The chef hopes to head home with new ideas and ways of working. “Cooking is a craft, and is very related to what you see, what you feel, what you hear, what you smell, and what you taste,” he explains.
“It’s so interesting to see a culture so different to what we have in South America, especially one that’s on the opposite side of the planet. It’s very inspiring.”