How does it feel to be one of three chefs chosen to cook for the athletes at the Olympic Games? My career has always been one of passion and dedication. It fills me with pride that I have now been selected as one of three chefs and will be able to represent France and its people for the duration of the Olympic Games. It’s a way to show my skills and my personal style.

You were born in Congo, Marseille is your adopted home. Nevertheless, you once said in an interview: “I neither do Congolese cuisine nor cuisine marseillaise.” How would you describe your cuisine? In our restaurant we offer a transversal cuisine. She is lively, distinctive, sincere and understandable. It is also influenced by my childhood, my entire career and, above all, by a great intensity. My cuisine is neither Congolese nor Marseillaise, but it is inevitably influenced by its surroundings – most of the products come from the Marseille area. And our dishes are created according to a personal taste alphabet that I developed from my own experiences.

After graduating from high school, Alexandre Mazzia initially started a career as a professional basketball player, studied military medicine and then switched to hotel college. Today he runs the restaurant “AM par Alexandre Mazzia” in Marseille, which has been awarded three stars by the Michelin Guide. This summer, Mazzia will be responsible for representing French cuisine at the Paris Olympics alongside Amadine Chaignot and Akrame Benallal. He is also one of the chosen ones to carry the Olympic torch through his hometown of Marseille.

What do you mean? My cuisine is based on my roots and is characterized by roasting, chilis, spices – everything that defines me. Authenticity has always been important to me. You can’t defend yourself against what you are.

You normally cook star-rated cuisine, but top athletes eat according to strict diet plans. How do the two go together? I’m a chef first, and one of our skills is being able to adapt. We do this every day, for example, considering our guests’ allergies and not eating this or that product. Furthermore, of course, when I was approached for the Olympics, I knew that I would be cooking for athletes and that I would need all the expertise I have acquired over the years working with nutritionists, sports doctors, fitness trainers and mental trainers to meet the requirements. Cooking isn’t necessarily more complicated. I just had to concentrate on the tastes and aromas and just be myself, as I am in everyday life.

You were once a professional athlete yourself, does that help you put together your menu? Yes, even though a lot of things were different when I was active, it is easier for me to understand the needs of athletes. When developing the recipes, the main aim was to represent a region and its products. So actually we just continue what defines us anyway – with care and rigor.

Are there any no-gos that cannot be on the menu during the Olympic Games? Of course, some products have been banned due to the carbon footprint. But because we have a certain level of expertise, I personally wasn’t prohibited from doing anything. I was able to suggest things that were accepted. This shows that the Olympic Committee really wants to showcase our cuisine and our flavors.

What are the chances that you will grant an athlete a special request if they are hungry? I think the athletes will find everything they need in the Olympic Village. So I’m not necessarily too worried and I don’t think any of the athletes will go hungry. However, if anyone still needs an additional ration, we will be happy to provide it. We are there for the athletes and of course want to avoid any frustration. We know very well how mentally demanding the Olympic Games are for the athletes.

Not only will you be one of the chefs at the Olympics, but you will also be one of the torchbearers. What does this mean for you? Luckily I only run 200 meters, so I don’t need to do any special preparation. But carrying the Olympic flame means a lot to me. It represents everything I have done and achieved. I think of all the people who have given me so much and all those who have listened to me. The Olympic flame is also a symbol that you can achieve a lot with passion. “The sky is the limit,” they say. I think there is no limit. I believe you just have to listen to your heart, what is deep inside you, to move forward.