Francis Mallmann at work
I was recently introduced to a chef who cooks and is inspired by the same principals that Fire Roasted Catering is based upon. Patagonian born Francis Mallmann is a chef, restauranteur, and super suave guy. After already having a prestigious career which included years of training in some of the finest French kitchens, and heading some of the most famous South American restaurants, Mallmann had an epiphany, to quote his friend Peter Kaminsky:
he was tired of being a French chef in a South American country. He began to move away from nouvelle cuisine and, as he said, “its decorative sauces that were perfected by a very few and poorly copied by thousands of chefs, including myself. I got very bored of all this three-star thing. It was my church for so many years. All those towers and decorations and too many things on a plate pushed me to go brutal and beastly in my cooking.”
His story continues with many brave and exciting moves which pushed him to develop the techniques he is now best know for. He currently has a gorgeous cookbook called Seven Fires which beautifully illustrates the foods and the feeling of cooking over wood fire.
My career trajectory as a chef, thought less illustrious, is not dissimilar. My interest in food is rooted in the traditions I was taught by my grandmother, whose tutelage inspired me to go to culinary school. In that environment I learned the classical techniques that intensify, deepen, and develop the flavors and textures of the ingredients that I use. Though I did work as a chef for five years (not including the dozen of years in kitchens before culinary school) I found the lure of entrepreneurism irresistible. To satisfy my need for independence I started a fresh pasta company which produced excellent hand made pastas using the freshest most local ingredients possible.
After selling that company I created Jeremy Stanton Catering, and returned to the rules of my grandmother: use the highest quality ingredients and the simplest preparations so that the inherent flavors of the food can speak for themselves. The next stage of my evolution came from an invitation to roast a whole veal calf for a Slow Food event, which I had never done before. Never mind, I thought, I know how to cook, I’ll spit roast it over a hardwood fire. The result was a mouth watering success. Fire Roasted Catering was born. Cooking with fire gives me the greatest flexibility, by using my custom built iron grill, and grill pans I have the ability to move the food quickly and easily. The taste of fire speaks to all of our carnal memories, standing around the fire as our food cooks is a communal experience, this taps into our base level of our humanity. It is fundamental.