Monegasque entrepreneur Riccardo Giraudi and his executive chef Thierry Paludetto talked about their (many) ideas and collaborations, past and future.
What do a Beefbar in Milan, a Cantinetta Antinori in London, an Indian Kebab on rue Princesse Caroline and an American Diner on avenue Princesse Grace have in common? All these establishments are among a long list of restaurants that will soon be opening thanks to Riccardo Giraudi and his teams, who are full of ambitious projects. Along with the group’s executive chef, Thierry Paludetto, the Monegasque entrepreneur tells us about the future openings and partnerships planned by the Giraudi group, which specialises in catering, but also in importing luxury meat.
3D printed meat
Among them are some real gambles that may seem surprising at first glance. For instance, a recent partnership with three vegan groups: Fable, born in Australia, Happyvore, created in France, and Redefine Meat, an Israeli company that manages to manufacture meat thanks to three-dimensional printing.
“These partnerships are part of our meat division,” says Riccardo Giraudi. “With all the recent growth in the vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian sectors, as a businessman, I thought instead of criticising the whole trend, I should embrace it. So off I went on a quest for the best producers of these alternative meats. We tried to choose the purest products, because not everything that is vegan is necessarily healthy.”
Riccardo Giraudi already provides some vegan products in his famous Beefbar, and intends to showcase the alternative protein in his future Leafbar, which is planned for the summer. “These products are intended to complement the meat range, not replace it. It’s like finding another protein, in the same way as meat, fish or vegetables. (…) I was lucky enough to be able to taste things that I hadn’t thought of as interesting. It is tasty, it is fresh, it is feminine.. You won’t know unless you try it ,” he says.
“I’m a big believer: it’s a different way of eating, it’s lighter, fresher. If we manage to open in July, the clientele will come”, agrees Thierry Paludetto.
And Riccardo Giraudi is also taking on an educational role, reassuring consumers about 3D printed meat, a technique with a fair share of preconceptions : “of the three groups we are working with, only Redefine Meat does it. It is a technology that combines muscle, fat and juice. They have managed to replicate meat, using natural, non-chemical means. People think we eat the printer, but of course that’s not the case. It’s the technology, and that’s the only industrial aspect. Everything that gets eaten is natural. (…) It isn’t the food of the future, but it is part of the future. In Southern countries, including France, it is still a very young product, very new, but it’s very popular.”
This popularity is explained by the quality of the imitation. Taste, texture, appearance… For this luxury meat professional, the effect is stunning: “I did a few blind tests, and I couldn’t tell the difference with normal meat, especially chicken. But bear in mind the cuts needs to be accompanied with a sauce, or marinated… You don’t eat the raw ingredients.”
Mauro Colagreco – a great story
Through these partnerships, there is a whole new adventure ahead for Riccardo and his teams. And while he recognises the magnitude of the gamble, the entrepreneur knows that even the most unexpected partnerships can have great results. One of the group’s biggest in 2021 was with world-renowned chef Mauro Colagreco.
“This was a very unlikely partnership,” admits Riccardo. “It came about during Covid. Our restaurant, Anahi, was the oldest Argentinian restaurant in Paris. We were looking for a revival after being closed for two years, so I said to Thierry: ‘Mauro Colagreco is here, we know him, he knows us… Why don’t we suggest he creates the menu?'”
A proposal that Mauro Colagreco immediately accepted because, funnily enough, the three-star chef’s current business partner washed dishes in the 1980s… at Anahi! And the stars seemed to be in alignment, as Mauro Colagreco had just published a cookbook of the Argentinian dishes his grandmother used to make. Simple, family-style cuisine, just like at the Parisian restaurant. “I said to him, ‘Look, you did the book for Anahi’,” Riccardo laughs. “It was a great success, and it took Anahi out of the Beefbar sphere.”
We need 2022 execution, with 1969 DNARiccardo Giraudi, on the African Queen in Beaulieu-sur-Mer
The African Queen Challenge
And having opened a dozen establishments since 2020, the Giraudi balance sheet is more than positive. The group now has twenty Beefbars in operation and ten on the way around the world. The signature restaurant is about to expand into six sub-brands internationally, including the vegan Beefbar (the future Leafbar), the Petit Beefbar, the Japanese Beefbar, the secret Beefbar and the Beefbar Blu, a restaurant aimed at large cities, where quality and luxury will be available for only 20 euros.
A year of “madness” , in the words of Riccardo Giraudi, which will not just be about the Beefbar and its variants. The entrepreneur also announces the imminent opening of a second Song-Qi Chinese restaurant in Sao Paulo, as well as the recent acquisition of the rights to the Italian brand Zeffirino, which will soon be coming to Monaco. From Paris to London, by way of Milan, New York or Doha, there is no stopping the juggernaut.
But one of the flagship projects of the past year remains the acquisition of the legendary African Queen, in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in partnership with Patrick Gioannini and Philippe Schriqui. “I believe this will be the future of the restaurant business: to take over these well-known brands with great history, roots, heritage… Today it’s about getting back to our roots, to the truth. There are stories to be told, and the African Queen is a nearby, iconic restaurant. And our Monaco clientele often goes to Beaulieu, so we thought there was something in it. Everything needs revamped, but nothing must change. There is DNA there, there is history. We need 2022 execution, with 1969 DNA. We will be revisiting the concept and bringing it up to date. We will keep 70% of the dishes, but at our level. It has to be chic, but simple”, Riccardo explains.
“We need to bring the restaurant back to life,” adds Thierry Paludetto. “We will also be opening an African Queen in Dubai in 2023-2024, so we will have to make sure we satisfy an international clientele.”
The Giraudi group also plans to open a Petit Beefbar in the biggest city of the United Arab Emirates. A ‘meaty’ challenge for Riccardo, who is well aware of the stakes involved: “Dubai is ultra-competitive, it’s a very difficult city. If you are successful in Dubai, you can succeed anywhere. We have already failed in Dubai: you need to get the best location, whatever the brand.”
But Riccardo and Thierry remain confident. For Riccardo Giraudi, apart from the strategic and essential choice of location for the future brands, the watchword will always be “quality”. “We’re improving the quality of our products without prices skyrocketing,” concludes the entrepreneur who, given the mountain of projects, recognises the amazing work carried out in the field by his staff. “As a businessman, you can have ideas, but they are the ones who make it happen. We are where we are today thanks to our staff.” Sounds like a recipe for success.