Michelin magic from Menton to Mumbai: Mauro Colagreco, the world’s best chef-restaurateur, discusses his genius

The stage is set and the star is ready to shine. Chef Mauro Colagreco is the owner of Mirazur, a restaurant in Menton on the Côte d’Azur in France that not only boasts three Michelin stars but has also been voted the best restaurant in the world by The World’s Best 50 Restaurants in 2019.  He’s currently in Mumbai to host two fabulous and interactive nine-course dinners at the St Regis Mumbai, where every coveted seat has sold for Rs 30,000 each. Culinary Culture, a company set to become one of the definitive voices on the Indian foodscape, has pulled off quite the coup, bringing him down as part of the Masters of Marriott initiative. 

Luca from his team has been here for a few days already and working on the preparations. Colagreco, who arrived on Thursday has visited the city’s spice markets and come away inspired. In fact, he’s creating a meat preparation using a local spice just for Mumbai’s diners! And while other elements of the exclusive dinner remain under wraps, he does divulge that guests can expect one of his favorite dishes that have (quite unusually) managed to stay on the Mirazur menu for two-three years – one that involves just beetroot and two ingredients. 

Of Italian and Spanish Basque origin, having spent his wonder years in Argentina and trained under some of the culinary greats in France (the late Bernard Loiseau, Alain Passard, Alain Ducasse and Guy Martin), Colagreco is often asked to define his cuisine. “Journalists and customers, they want to put me in a box. But ‘traditional’ is not me. My DNA analysis shows 30 different countries in my blood. When I opened Mirazur in 2006, I kept out all my backgrounds, my cultures and traditions, the techniques I learned in France and I started with a totally fresh vision of French Riviera cuisine,” he says, explaining that evolution of traditional cuisine is important.

Mirazur has been lauded as a marvel even in France, a country known for its cutting-edge food scene, because of his passion for using the absolute freshest and most local ingredients at the peak of their perfection. Colagreco explains how, if he didn’t have enough fresh peas, he would serve them in one creation to only some of the tables and a completely different one with different ingredients to the others. This meant that the menu changed often, depending on what was in season and available, and celebrated innovation like never before. No wonder he was hailed as a culinary wonder from early days in his career when he turned restaurateur at 29. Now, Colagreco owns a clutch of restaurants in many locations, with more on the way.

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#CareerGoals, for sure. But despite being such an achiever, for Colagreco, the philosophy of his food is simple and it’s heartfelt. “I traveled around the world. I was in places where I didn’t speak the same language as the locals. But the language that made it easy to communicate in every situation was food. Around the table, we can reach the same emotions. For me, the food needs to be emotional. And you cannot say this emotion is French, this emotion is Italian, this is Argentinian… It’s like love, it is beyond borders.” 

And while he is grateful for the adulation and acknowledges that the recognition has led to his restaurant is almost always booked and full, his brilliance is clearly born of a different motivation. He says, “I started to cook, not because I wanted to reach three Michelin stars or become the top restaurant around the world but because I loved to cook for others. And that’s my constant endeavor – to cook with love for my guests.” And that’s probably the garnish that takes him from being very good to exceptionally great.

Note: The critic was invited by the brand but all the opinions expressed herewith are her own

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