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FOOD & DRINK

Meet Mauro Colagreco - the best chef in the world

Words by Rob Chilton

The Argentine is Chef Patron at Mirazur, in Menton near Monaco, which has three Michelin stars and was voted best in the world in 2019

As he takes up a new post in Dubai, Colagreco spoke to EDGAR about his grandmother's cooking, the best dishes he's ever eaten and how he handles pressure at work.

What’s your earliest food memory?

My paternal grandparents lived in the countryside in Argentina, so we visited them during holidays. There was always a party in my grandmother’s house and I remember her cooking. My grandfather was Italian and she was Basque, so she learned how to cook pasta to keep my grandfather happy. She made a delicious ravioli with spinach, Parmesan and veal brain.

The veranda at Mirazur in the south of France

Pigeon with wild strawberries at Mirazur

What did your father do?

He was a gardener and grew his own tomatoes. They were the first flavours I remember. We would pick tomatoes from the plant, still warm from the sun, and eat them without washing them. My grandmother Amalia made the ravioli sauce from these tomatoes.

How did you enter the industry?

I decided I wanted to cook when I was 20 years old, which is considered a late start in the industry.

Did you pursue other career ideas first?

I tried to follow in my dad’s footsteps as an accountant, but as with every job you must find passion in what you do and this wasn’t the case here. I also tried to pursue a literary career, but that wasn’t for me either. Sometimes a crisis can be dangerous but sometimes it’s a blessing and leads to a great opportunity.

What changed your mind?

It was my sister who reminded me of the pleasure and happiness I used to feel as a child, cooking with my grandmother. That memory turned out to be a real journey back to rediscovering myself and my true passion. Cooking is what I am, I could not be anything else.

Colagreco dabbled in literature before becoming a chef

What have been some of your most memorable restaurant experiences?

The dessert I ate at Max and Raf Alajmo’s Le Calandre (Italy) touched me deeply. The ravioli burro and salvia at La Vecchia Ostaia (Italy) brought back beautiful childhood memories of my grandma’s cooking. Finally, the ragout at David Kinch’s Manresa (USA); when it came to the table the aromas reminded me of my mother making her Sunday puchero (a type of Spanish stew).

What new trends are you seeing in restaurants?

Waste and sustainability are hotly debated at the moment. However, I see it as much more than a trend. At Mirazur we are very conscious about waste, we use vegetables that are in season and respect the ingredients. The approach is not always easy, but it has certainly led to some new discoveries in the kitchen.

Mauro Colagreco oversees the restaurants at One & Only Royal Mirage in Dubai

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