At the Mirazur, his three Michelin star restaurant in Menton, Mauro Coalgreco delights guests with dishes from all around the world that are as surprising as they are sustainable. We met with the Italo-Argentinian chef to talk all things career, from his early days in Buenos Aires to his atypical dishes, and his new bakery in Monaco.
We meet with Colagreco during a mild winter afternoon on the Côte d’Azur. At the mention of Mauro Colagreco’s name, gourmets will recognise the mark of exceptional talent, but Colagreco is an unlikely household name. Surrounded by the hopelessly empty chairs of the Mirazur, the Italian-Argentinean chef looks back on his early days.
"I studied literature and economics and finished university at twenty. I didn’t know what to do in life, so I started helping a friend in his Buenos Aires restaurant," he tells us. "It was a revelation."
When Mauro Coalgreco speaks, he stares into space. "I had wasted a lot of time, which is why, like most great chefs, I flew to France.” And so, Colagreco enrolled at the Lycée Hôtelier de La Rochelle.
Learning from the Greats
At the time, Colagreco did not plan on staying in France for long, but 20 years later, he’s still hasn't left. “I have beautiful memories of when I was first introduced to the French art de vivre and the culture of enjoying food.” Mauro Colagreco’s cuisine is the fruit of years of collaborations with France’s biggest chefs. He first works with Bernard Loiseau, before going to Paris in the Plaza athénée, under the supervision of Alain Ducasse and at the Arpège, with Alain Passard.
“Loiseau introduced me to classic French sauces. He knew how to make classic dishes avant-garde. Ducasse taught me rigour and attention to detail, while Alain Passard introduced me to the art of cooking vegetables."
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“Sensational", " wonderful", "grandiose". Reviewers have long raved about the spectacular setting of the Mirazur restaurant, opened by Colagreco right on the Italian border back in 2006. "I don't know if I chose the place or if the place chose me, but in any case, I'm completely in love with it.”
In 2019, the restaurant was awarded its 3rd Michelin star, and with it the title of "Best Restaurant in the World", while the Argentinian chef was named "Best Chef in the World”.
The restaurant is known for its atypical concepts, including a menu inspired by the phases of the moon. It also places a lot of importance on its five hectares of land, which are now home to vegetable gardens.
The restaurant’s eco-consciousness extends to the kitchens, which do not use plastic. “We haven’t got any cling film or vacuum bags,” says Mauro Colagreco.
Julia Colagreco is not only Mauro Colagreco’s wife but also his right-hand man. “I could have never made it without her,” says Mauro Colagreco with a smile. And after having conquered Menton, the couple now has its eye on Monaco.
The pair wants to export the idea behind their Menton-based Mitron Bakery to the Condamine Market. "Our bread will be made from old, unmodified, and organic wheat" explains Julia Colagreco.
A deli is also in the books. "We will be offering takeaway and on-the-spot meals, including cold salads, foie gras, pies, and pastries." BYO (Build your own) by Mauro Colagreco will open on December 22nd. Right in time for Christmas.
© Photos : Restaurant Mirazur