I have eaten at his 1884 restaurant in Mendoza, though I never had the opportunity to see Argentine chef Francis Mallman cook in person. A rooftop in SOHO – New York, not Buenos Aires – was the last place I expected that to occur.
After naming the grill master and author of the book Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way the executive chef of Siete Fuegos, the restaurant at the Vines Resort & Spa in the Uco Valley, the Vines of Mendoza took the famed chef on a whirlwind tour of several US cities to celebrate with a menu of grilled sweetbreads, five hour rib eye, skirt steak, and a salt crusted salmon infiernillo with aioli. Everything was paired with Recuerdo Wines, now available in the US, which are produced at the Vines of Mendoza’s vineyards.
The restaurant, which will open in March in time for harvest in Mendoza (the resort will be fully operational in September), will showcase Mallmann’s authentic Argentine cooking method that utilizes seven different types of fire.
“Fires will be the soul and the engine of our kitchen,” said Mallman, who helped design the kitchen at the restaurant, in an interview with Vines. “The contrasts of the different types of fire will surprise and inspire. Simplicity is the goal of the kitchen design and the seven distinct outdoor fires will show completely the tastes of both mild and intense cooking. We also have 16 burners inside – it’s all about harnessing the right fire for the right dish.”
“Seven fires are the seven techniques of cooking with fire I use for my cooking,” he said. “It goes from a tender plancha (grill) to extremely hot, and these techniques are related to our country’s history – as far back as 12,000 years. There is a strong influence from our parent countries as well, such as Spain.”
The seven fires Mallman’s world include:
–Parrilla (cast iron bbq)
–Chapa (cast iron in fire)
–Infiernello (two fires with level between)
–Horno de Barro (outdoor oven)
–Rescoldo (embers and warm ashes)
–Asador (whole animals butterflied)
–Caldero (cast iron kettle or dutch oven)
A common thread in Mallman’s cooking is his use not only of live fires, but native and seasonal Argentine ingredients. At Siete Fuegos restaurant you can expect the menu to continue that method.
“In spring and summer it would probably be a roasted leg of goat with altitude potatoes and squash,” he said. “As the temperatures cool, I would move towards the simple Ojo del Bife, cooked for 6 hours. The local vegetables, such as carrots and beets, also tell the story of the abundance of the region.”
To learn more about the Vines of Mendoza Resort & Spa in Mendoza’s Uco Valley, as well as their wine club, residential properties, and vineyard estate program, visit their website: vinesofmendoza.com.
You can read our interview with Vines of Mendoza co-founder Michael Evans here, as well read their tips in bringing wine home from Mendoza.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.