Last year, outdoor lifestyle brand Best Made Co. tapped Argentine chef Francis Mallmann to curate a collection of products that reflected his unique lifestyle. It included both a $98 bandana and a $2,298 towering steel grill — appropriate for the open-fire cooking king whose restaurants serve patrons in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, France and the United States.
Now, Mallmann and Best Made Co. are back again with an expanded holiday collection of clothing and hard goods. These functional products reference Mallmann’s everyday life, whether on his private island in Patagonia, at his chateau in Provence or on the road, traveling between engagements. The items — ranging from stoneware to a shearling coat — explore the balance of function and beauty in everyday goods.
The Mallmann Best Made Capsule features an expanded collection of bandanas, a beautiful travel backgammon set, two hats (a beret and Stetson), a Pendleton wool blanket and a luxurious shearling coat, among other things. While offering real functional value, they also manage to be romantic and, at times, nostalgic. To better understand the pieces in the capsule, we caught up with Mallmann before the holiday season.
Q: You’ve expanded on your first capsule collection with Best Made Co., offering more and different products. What was your inspiration behind this curation?
A: For me, cooking is an extension of my lifestyle, which includes games, beauty, taste, decor and clothing. This collection speaks to opposites and contradictions — two important departments of my life.
Q: Do you always carry a bandana? What, to you, is special about this humble accessory?
A: A bandana in my back pocket or in the top pocket of my tuxedo is a must. I use it cooking when out in the wild, tied up as a colander for fruits and vegetables, or even pasta and rice — or even to tie my baby to my chest for a walk.
Q: Other items in this collection like the stoneware and the wool blanket are tactile and purpose-built, yet beautiful in their simplicity. What do these products capture that other more modern items lack?
A: The contrast between the past and modernity. We have to be able to mix them to create a life that matters. Both on their own, I feel, are a bore.
Q: Do you play backgammon for fun or are you a gambler?
A: Backgammon is a matter of math, memory, and being able to look ahead! Isn’t that the best exercise for life? I’m not a gambler, although sometimes I am slightly tempted to be.
Q: Do you have a favorite hat you reach for when stepping out each morning? What are the best qualities of the hats in this collection?
A: The beret has been part of my daily outfit for so many years, no matter if I am wearing a tie or sneakers. Wool in winter, indigo cotton in summer. As for the Stetson — we designed this one to be softer, so it can bend and take on the shape and humor of the day. It’s elegant and will age so gracefully.
Q: Is the shearling coat modeled on a favorite from your past or is it something you’ve always wanted?
A: The shearling [coat] is a cousin of a gamulán, a very similar coat from my childhood, with this one being a bit shorter and more shaped. I can’t wait to wear it with a tie and the Stetson.
Q: Do believe products can be nostalgic, romantic or emotional? Should they be?
A: When I get out of bed every morning, I think of my day ahead and what I will wear to make love to the day. It’s the only way to live. And clothing old and new has to have charm, and hopefully a bit of irreverence. Break the rules. Be disobedient.
Q: What are five products or tools that are most essential to your cooking?
A: When I walk outside I like to take an onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Then when I am near a river bed I can fish a trout, light a fire, and cook it with my simple seasoning for lunch. So, a big coat pocket, like the one on my shearling jacket, is essential.
In my small outing backpack, I take a change of clothing, a radio to talk to base camp, binoculars for birds and animals, first aid and some basic food. That, and a large bandana, which can be used to improvise so many things!