His restaurant is now one of the 50 best in the world. After placing Marseille on the map of French gastronomy thanks to a third star in the Michelin Guide and the title of Chef of the Year 2021, Alexandre Mazzia is now promoting his adopted city internationally. It has just joined the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world, better known as “50 Best”, with the title of “One to watch award”, the restaurant not to be missed. Despite all these distinctions, Alexandre Mazzia confides in 20 minutes with all the modesty that characterizes him.
What does being on the “50 Best” list mean to you?
It’s very nice. We are very happy to receive this global and super prestigious distinction. To be recognized by one of the greatest guides, it’s always a pleasure and it’s good for the teams. It shines a light on Marseille, the region, our territory. But also on a know-how, a craft. We often hear that Marseille is late, I think we show that we are in tune with the times and that we are capable of reinventing ourselves in our time. We will continue to do so with always the same commitment and the same determination. But it is also the beginning of a new cycle.
What will this new cycle be heading towards?
We are carrying out major work in the restaurant with a complete reorganization of the kitchen, in order to create a pantry for all that is cafeteria, teas and infusions, which require a lot of precision, to the nearest degree. We opened in June 2014 and since then we have been doing renovations every year, but here we are stripping the whole kitchen. We hardly touched the room, we just redid two tables in stone, with this organic side that characterizes us. We go from 24 to 18 or 20 covers depending on the configuration. We needed more space so we’re grabbing cm2! For more comfort for customers, but also for my teams, since we are 24 in the kitchen. There we arrive at the top of comfort, we work from Wednesday to Saturday and I wanted to offer a respectable zone to my divers. The goal is to keep the pleasure of pleasing. We still have things to look into, in terms of roasting for example. But also juice blends, like this carabinero juice [gambas] on pork. On the bitter, cocoa. The goal is to go even further in my inner journey, while maintaining this experience.
Have you considered moving for more space and comfort?
I had offers but I’m not ready. We have built a soul and an energy here that is special. And I haven’t come to the end of my stupidity yet. It’s too early and I don’t have the need or the desire to move abroad. We will continue to go to the end of the journey that we have started to create.
You are also going to relaunch your Michel food-truck…
Yes, I’m relaunching “Michel”, boulevard Carmagnole from this Saturday, June 18th. With small formulas and new creations, but also tables and a space to sit down, drink a glass of rosé. We found a nearby place to produce. And I want to be present for Michel, it’s not just a plus, I want to be there and see our customers, our new customers, the people who can’t come every day. To exchange and be available for them. It also allows the teams to find another context, and to breathe a little. I put it back in place until August 20 before finding a format to perpetuate it. I’m waiting to see with the town hall to find a solution without putting us too far. I would like the town hall to become aware of the importance of this territory and what we have brought to it. We will of course find the croq’Mazz and five sweet proposals such as a strawberry, pistachio and tarragon tartlet or a chocolate, Espelette pepper and smoked milk dessert. The Hot’Mazz will also be back, like a lamb mille-feuille, onion confit, and smoked carrot mustard. I will also be launching 25-year-old mango and balsamic gelato from Modena.
Are you also preparing for the Olympic Games, during which you will be cooking for the athletes?
It’s progressing, it’s progressing! We are preparing with Sodexo Live, nutritionists and sports coaches to be closer to the athletes. I invest 150% to participate indirectly in the lives of athletes and their performance. Nutrition is clearly linked to performance so I am very committed. It is complex work upstream since it will be necessary to prepare 10,000 meals a day, while taking into account recycling, short circles, product traceability, carbon footprint, which are very important things. But we are moving forward.
Are you aware that you are now one of the most anticipated chefs by Top Chef candidates?
I don’t really realize it. It’s nice to be invited, I even went there twice this season because Philippe Etchebest wanted me to supervise Pascal [candidat éliminé en quart de finale]. I find that Top Chef offers the opportunity to show our work. And I always see very committed candidates, who fight against themselves and not against each other. It brings out the positive side, and it’s good to discover the candidates, and our houses, that not everyone necessarily knows.
Would you be tempted to become a member of the jury and brigade leader?
No, I don’t imagine myself as a brigade leader, I was given the perch but I don’t think that comes within my prerogatives. I have friends who are doing very well, I have the impression that they are made for this. Like Glenn Viel, who is super natural and fits well. I talk a lot with him, we call each other a lot since he joined the jury.
There is also a good connection between the chefs of the region, with Glenn Viel, but also Christophe Bacquier, Gérald Passedat…
Yes with Dimitri too [Droisneau, qui a obtenu une troisième étoile au Guide Michelin avec la villa Madie], there is a great emulation, a real complicity and mutual respect for everyone. We are happy with each other and Glenn, Christophe or Gérald have always been kind to me, even before the stars. They were the ones who predicted my third star. They play the role of big brother and that is what is superb and appreciable. Everyone is passionate and it’s not a competition against each other. The objective is to achieve, to be in harmony with oneself and we are happy to see the young people succeed. I am very happy to see chefs who were with me open their own restaurant, I see what I have been able to pass on to them and they realize the complexity of being at home.
An address to advise on Marseille?
Michel by AM (laughs). You go to the beach and on your way home, you sit quietly at the food truck. There are a lot of super young people who are settling down and there are plenty of places to eat well, or drink well in Marseille. This city has become a gastronomic destination, and those who do not say otherwise have never come!