After awarding the Icon Award to Wawira Njiru for the project Kenya Food for Education, 50 Best continues its approach to the July 18 awards ceremony in London, where it was moved following the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Now it is the turn of the prestigious American Express One To Watch Award 2022, awarded each year to the best up and coming restaurant on the global scene celebrating gastronomic excellence and innovation. The award went to AM Par Alexandre Mazzia restaurant in Marseille, owned by the namesake French chef Alexandre Mazzia (born in 1976) who in a few years managed to bring his restaurant to elite level in world gastronomy. Mazzia's restaurant is atypical, led by an atypical chef: with only 22 seats and a menu focused on vegetables, fish and seafood, the chef offers a daring cuisine crossed by a myriad influences and flavours, starting with those of his own origins.
The story of Alexandre Mazzia
Mazzia was born in Ponte-Noire, Congo, where he lived until he was 14, when he emigrated to France to study gastronomy. Alexandre began working in different kitchens between France and Spain while also pursuing his promising career as a basketball player (he made it all the way to the French youth nationals). In 2010 he settled in Marseille, where he took root by marrying the multiethnic and sunny spirit of the city, which he represents every day in his dishes. "My cuisine is influenced by the cosmopolitan side of Marseille, the sea, the fishermen's nets, the spices" he tells 50 Best "its lights, its sounds and its smells are important to me, I believe that the sea has guided my soul."
After a year as chef of the restaurant of Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse, in 2011 he won the "Young Talent" award assigned by the Gault & Millau guide, a recognition that allowed him to open his own restaurant. He is the sole owner of the restaurant (he says he started with 20 euros in his bank account) which he opened in the summer of 2014 in a residential area of Marseille. In a few years, thanks also to a core mission strongly focused on the chef's character, the restaurant has collected a large number of awards, up to the American Express One To Watch Award 2022.
The AM par Alexandre Mazzia proposal
Guests choose the duration of their journey in the restaurant, without knowing what the chef will feed them. You can choose between a short, a medium and a long tasting menu and the dishes chosen by Mazzia depend strictly on the catch of the day and the deliveries of the farmers during the day. In the restaurant there is an open relationship between the dining room - consisting of only seven tables - and the open kitchen, where the chef is always busy serving up with an impressionist style cuisine inspired by Joan Mirò.
Unlike other haute cuisine restaurants, AM par Alexandre Mazzia does not offer classic pairings but rather focuses on very different products that have the sole objective of enhancing the experience: "Take sake, for example, with which we work a lot, it sublimates dishes" says Mazzia "Champagne is important because it is celebratory and with its bubbles it is more appropriate for its freshness and its tension and helps to create bridges between our sequences."
In explaining his cuisine, Mazzia speaks of frequencies because he has divided his proposal into sequences of dishes, which are served in a quick lapse of time in a complementary way to arouse emotions in customers. In this scenario, tea, sake, champagne and - of course - wine are seen as links between the various sequences. Mazzia claims that there is no signature dish in his proposal, which includes ambitious combinations such as "zucchini flowers in green satay sauce," "beurre blanc with saffron" and "crystallised seaweed with bottarga," even if the dish which probably best represents the chef's soul and influences is "smoked eel with chocolate."
AM par Alexandre Mazzia – Marseille – 9 Rue François Rocca - +33 491248363 – www.alexandre-mazzia.com
by Maurizio Gaddi