Alexandre Mazzia (AM) : A 3-Star slam dunk
Born in Pointe-Noire, Congo, Alexandre Mazzia began his career as a basketball pro. Simultaneously, he trained as a chef under culinary stars, including working with Pierre Hermé at Fauchon, Martin Berasategui in Spain, Michel Bras, and Alain Passard. In 2010, he traded his basketball for Marseille and opened "AM by Alexandre Mazzia" in 2014. It earned 1 star in 2015, 2 in 2019, and 3 in 2022. A strong start to the game. Interview.
What is your favorite spice?
Why did you choose Marseille?
For the warmth of the people and the light.
How do you define the concept of "Nourish"?
For me, it's primarily about curiosity; nourishing one's mind, path, knowledge, and skills. This seemingly simple act goes far beyond the mere act of living and the primary purpose implied by the verb. It goes beyond satiety. In cooking, we are a bridge. We have the privilege of being timeless, allowing us to provide a transition between the emotional, nutritional, and the journey. My intention is to offer the best of what we are through expression. I used to pass the ball. Now I transfer experiences.
On that note, it seems you find excellence everywhere.
Absolutely: In perception and understanding; in intellectual excellence; in knowledge. Coming from Africa, I always have much to discover. My grandfather taught me the excellence of life, words, and simple things. The excellence of experiences that young people may not understand: The excellence of precision and the gesture. Over time, it becomes a way of life, a given. That's probably why I adore Miró. I see the power of the essential achieved after decades of hard work. A key to happiness. A door to self-discovery. I'm one of the old folks; I find fulfillment in work; it nourishes my mind. I absorb experiences. It allows me to live, travel, and remain curious. I need to stay active.
Is this excellence attainable for everyone?
You must want to know yourself. When the people around you accept you, you have a lifeline. I believe the only limit lies in understanding and what it costs. If you don't find it natural, I think the task becomes difficult. I often say, "There is no double standard." You must express feelings and avoid being bound by others' judgments. We depend on the excellence of products but also on energy. We must observe, understand people's needs, use instinct, and generate happiness. I was fortunate to experience emotions with my grandfather. He was a fisherman. His protocol on his cutting board was incredible, surpassing that of some Japanese masters I met later. Silent, he never said much, but when he spoke, you had to listen.
"The curious persist; others give up: The paradox of excellence."
One of your employees recently mentioned the importance of the "Harmony of the Journey."
Our team indeed aims to trigger inner journeys. We want to enable our guests to enter a simple world. To achieve this, we use "simplexity," the ability to transcend complexity to convey pure expression. The trap is that most people seek anchor points. Here, you eat, you live in the moment. You retain the emotion of the world. It becomes part of the inner journey they've shared: The excellence of the moment. Our tools take the form of spices, roasting, and smoking freshly caught fish. Confit eggplant or burnt watermelon can evoke a family scene, a walk, or a reflection. It's often an autarchic approach, sometimes a shared memory. We need codes, a sense of belonging. My team creates intellectual and culinary divides. Diners are often disoriented by the place, the cuisine, and the products. Often, they can't describe what they experience here. The curious persist; others give up: the paradox of excellence. I'm in my own world where I have a place and a personal way of expressing myself. I provide keys. I open doors.
Can this intimate journey become international?
The world is moving too fast. Covid has added fuel to the fire. We are in a frenetic, utopian race. We could have taken advantage of this slowdown to reconnect with lost supply chains, but some took advantage of the system; others tried to catch up. Everything is excessive: Social division, the loss of a sense of community. In cities, this rift is enormous. It creates distrust among residents, unease, emotional fragility. Social bonds are weakening. At "AM," we consider our suppliers as jewelers of our territory. We don't negotiate prices. The same goes for employees. Once the contract is signed, we only talk about excellence. If a fisherman needs a new boat, we help as much as we can because my definition of leadership has nothing to do with authority. A good leader takes care of others. And when everything works well, the team trusts my judgment. We don't have to deal with tantrums; this allows us to invest all our energy in writing our own story, through music, light, color, or texture. I weave around that. Once I've done that, it's done. I just want our visitors to get value for their money