World’s best restaurant has a menu for 365 seasons
The Mirazur in Menton on the French Riviera came top in this year’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, a respected listing based on an international poll of chefs and critics. Connexion interviewed its chef Mauro Colagreco.
What effect has it had to receive this accolade of “world’s best”?
It gave us great joy and the necessary energy to respond to all the requests we received from the first minute of the announcement, from the press and from bookings.
It’s meant a lot of work and also a lot of satisfaction from the unconditional support of our teams and the affectionate reaction of our customers, friends and family.
What makes you exceptional?
We are in a privileged location. An enclave in the Mediterranean basin, between sea, garden and mountains.
We benefit from an exceptional variety and quality of products.
I work with local producers who still keep alive a whole tradition of know-how linked to the terroir. We have our own permaculture gardens and access to products at all stages of development.
The menu is based on products that arrive every day at the restaurant. We have 365 seasons instead of four.
Do you aim to innovate a lot? Do you have a signature dish?
I mainly try to have fun, surprise myself and surpass myself.
I like to create new combinations, new relationships between ingredients. I have several signature dishes, such as Calamari bagna cauda [a hot dipping sauce], oysters with pears, beetroot with caviar sauce, naranjo en flor [with saffron cream, almond foam and orange sorbet]…
Menton is famous for a special micro-climate – does that help?
The famous microclimate of Menton is composed of different elements: the Mediterranean Sea which offers us the freshest, most delicious produce.
The maritime Alps, which protect the Côte d’Azur from cold northern winds, with all the products of the pastoral tradition, a way of farming that has not changed over time, cheeses with a delicious flavour with the sweetness of a milk not found elsewhere.
These mountains are also rich in herbs and flowers that we use ultra-fresh to give a unique flavour to dishes. Our gardens and vegetables grow in this beautiful place.
We are at the borders of several different food culture zones that follow the climactic zones where the Mirazur is located: the Mediterranean Sea, olive oil and wine, the chestnut of the subalpine woods, and the pastoral culture of the villages in the hinterland.
The Mirazur lives alongside all these cultures. My teams and I cross these borders every day, several times, then bring them together in our dishes, harmonised by our recipes.
How much does your beautiful location overlooking Menton and the sea play a role? Did the “50 Best” judges take it into account?
Thanks to the privileged site where we are located, we can offer much more than a menu; it is an experience that is closely linked to a landscape, a terroir, a special atmosphere, a very concrete history and culture.
Do your Argentinian and Italian family origins inspire you? And great chefs you have worked with?
I define myself more as a cook than as someone who belongs to a country, to a territory.
I free myself from my origins to create with all the influences of the world.
Nevertheless, I can identify this taste for sharing around the table, which is typical of Argentinian-Italian families, and which has influenced me throughout my journey.
All the great chefs I have worked with have inspired me: Bernard Loiseau, Alain Passard, Guy Martin, Alain Ducasse. Great masters, great memories.
It must be a great challenge to stay at such a level. Do you enjoy that and how do you maintain it?
I have never worked to obtain a prize or any kind of consecration. For me and my teams, it is always necessary to evolve.
The work is day to day and the stars and ranks are a recognition of this journey. But what is important is the journey. That is what continues to set the rhythm of our daily lives.
Do you have new projects that you want to explore at the Mirazur?
Yes, we have many projects, a kitchen-laboratory that is researching constantly.
Every Wednesday there are training sessions for the whole team: workshops, visits to producers to be inspired, to learn and share experiences that will enrich their lives, The Mirazur’s cuisine and finally what we can offer to customers.
After a training in vinegars, for example, we started our own vinegar production at the Mirazur.
We also have plans to make the Mirazur more and more sustainable. We have virtually eliminated plastic from our restaurant and we continue to work with our suppliers and customers to achieve this.
You have several other projects in the world. Do you think it will always be important to you to work in the restaurant at Menton?
Menton is not only the site of the Mirazur. I am developing other projects in this town which has always delighted me, which has welcomed me since 2006, and which is the place where I have chosen to live, where I have my house, my gardens.
Menton is my home.