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A Baptism by Fire

The Four-Seasons: the fire / cooking shack where many of the meals are prepared and eaten, year-round, on La Isla.
A man who thrives in a rare, unspoiled corner of Earth, and transcends the world of cooking: here Francis Mallmann begins his overture.
"La Isla" (The Island), nestled at the end of a distant lake in Patagonia, faces a wall of rock called the Andes.
The 20+ mile crossing from the mainland, and civilization, to La Isla is always a treacherous one. We made it safely, and were welcomed by three feet of fresh powder.
Mallmann in his Shearling Vest: an expression of his reliance on the fine resources nature provides.
Every meal on La Isla is a culinary and literal adventure. These pigs await the next one.
José Luis, one of Francis's top chefs, uses a whetstone to stay sharp and ready for the day's preparations.
Framed by the Andes mountains and the frigid waters of Lago La Plata, Francis puts on a brave smile for our photographer as he wades gingerly to shore.
José Luis and Cristian, two of Francis's most trusted chefs, get a fire started. On the menu: fresh brook trout caught by Francis, covered in clay, and cooked in an open fire.
Whatever we couldn't eat was brought back to La Isla and made into gravlax.
Nestled deep in a Patagonian snow, the main cabin where we slept on La Isla comes aglow as night falls.
Local ingredients. Only Francis’ recipe for paella would call for a full shovel of fresh snow.
Preaching from his altar.
It was becoming clear why we hauled those pigs all the way over.
The troops are hungry.
Christian showing symptoms of extended removal from civilization.
An accomplished world traveler, Francis has had some practice getting around in the world gracefully.
Looking out onto the frozen lake is the home of Carlos Mallmann, Francis's older brother. Carlos lives on the mainland, about a 30-minute journey from La Isla.
One can only wonder what amusement has been had here.
Cristian prepares the fires for a feast on the ice.
The locals demonstrate their confidence in the thickness of the ice.
High sticking: with our hand-carved hockey sticks and celebratory beer, we rejoice after a glorious afternoon on the Patagonian ice.
Preparing a pig asado.
Francis tends the beast.
Lessons on a perfect roast.
The calm before the scramble for chicharron begins.
Every productive day in this corner of the Earth is worthy of commemoration.
The morning after: looking at the Andes through the mirror-like lens of La Lago Plata.
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Fall 2015: Patagonia, Argentina

La Isla (The Island) is the creative refuge for one of the world’s greatest chefs, Francis Mallmann. It was here Francis stoked the first fires that helped make his name household, and forged an inimitable way of life that transcends the world of food. This small island is nestled at the end of a distant lake in Patagonia, facing a wall of rock called the Andes. If the island were a small skiff, Francis’s cabin is at the prow; his bedroom window faces defiantly into the storms that roll off the mountains and batter the island. This past winter (summer back north) we landed on the shores of La Isla, after almost three full days of travel from our offices in New York. We lobbed onto the dock: two whole pigs, boxes of vegetables and fruit, duffle bags of gear, an early edition of Robert Service’s Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, and the first run of our new down
outerwear program.

When you set foot on La Isla, thigh-deep in snow, the distance sets in: between you and home, between you and family, between you and the nearest hospital. There’s no margin for error here; everything you bring must perform. And so the details we obsessed over in the months of prior product development were put to the test. - Peter Buchanan-Smith, Founder / CEO

Thanks to: Cristian Menendez, José Luis Medina, Martin Benitez, Leah Benitez, Maria Du Luynes, Tom Wesley, Reminginton Kendall, Francis Mallmann, Carlos Mallmann, and Laura Austin.

We extend special thanks to Francis for letting us into his beautiful world and telling its magnificent story.

Photography by Christina Holmes