On the right path with Chefs Lanussol and Mayer
When two chefs open a restaurant in meat-centric Buenos Aires with a menu that is vegetable forward and mostly cooked on an open flame, we took notice. Chefs Leo Lanussol and Augusto Mayer opened Proper in 2016 and in just one year shot to #49 on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2017. They are inspired by the simplicity of a delicious product then cooking and accessorizing it to into something mind blowing. The feel is casual, the ambiance is relaxed and the goal is to share some exceptional small plates with great friends. They like the path they’re on and continue to inspire and be inspired.
Aspire Lifestyles: What do you want the world to know about the cuisine of your country and the cuisine of your restaurant?
Chef Leo & Augusto: There has been a shift in the way people eat and when people decide where to go and eat. At Proper, we have small plates, so two people can order four dishes and share them. What sets the restaurant apart is that we cook in a wood-fired oven. Everything goes through our oven, we switch it on to 400 degrees before service. We use Argentine products from producers who are really committed to them, and we try to use mostly organic produce.
Aspire Lifestyles: Chef Mayer, you’re a pastry chef and your restaurants are quite well known for the wood burning oven. Is it used for pastry in addition to bread and savory dishes?
Chef Leo & Augusto: The desserts we make in our restaurant have the peculiarity of not being sweet – it’s more about freshness, acidity, even extreme flavours like using Mendoza vinegar to make pickled pineapple. We always have the flan, which is a hit of the restaurant, and two others, one of which is always fruits of the season. We make the bread in a temperature-controlled oven as it’s sourdough with fermentation in the refrigerator, so it would be impossible to cook it in an oven with a flame and reach the same standards of excellence.
Aspire Lifestyles: When friends come to town, where do you take them, both to dine and to get an insider view of Buenos Aires?
Chef Leo & Augusto: We really like the restaurant of one of our good friends, Mariano Ramón, which is called Gran Dabbang, because it mixes intense flavours. For a good coffee, the guys at Lab, or brunch at La Alacena. For a good asado (grilled meat), there’s nothing better than doing it with a friend at home, where the entire ceremony takes place around the grill. But if we’re talking about grills in Buenos Aires, we have two favourites: El Pobre Luis and Don Julio.
Aspire Lifestyles: What has been your most memorable food destination (city/country)? Why?
Chef Leo & Augusto: I think Italy was one of the countries we liked most because of the simplicity of the ingredients. With a tomato, some basil and some olive oil, you have an incredible salad, and that’s without even mentioning the cheese and cold cuts.
Aspire Lifestyles: You get to take 5 chefs to dinner at any restaurant in the world. Which chefs do you bring along with you and where do you take them? Why those chefs and why that restaurant?
Chef Leo & Augusto: Mariano Ramón, Mercedes Solis, Tomás Dilello, Pablo Chinen, Tomás Scarpetti. We would like to eat at Estela, River Café, Automata, Acme and Narisawa.
Aspire Lifestyles: How has your placement on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list changed your life?
Chef Leo & Augusto: It was truly unexpected – we never imagined we would enter such an important list, in such a short space of time, as our restaurant has only been open a year and a half. What changed us was the peace of mind of knowing we’re on the right path and that by doing things as we are, we can go a long way. What it has generated within the team has been great – we all feel like protagonists in an award for creativity and effort.