A chef is like an artist. He paints nature’s vitality on a plate with the ingredients of the south of France

Ristorante Mirazur
Mauro Colagreco

Ristorante Mirazur Mauro Colagreco

I don’t change how I cook to earn three stars

You said that Mediterranean cuisine is a simple and complex one. When you use ingredients in a simple fashion, where do you think is the complexity comes from?

Mr. Colagreco :
As an example, in the beetroot caviar I served for Alain Passard, or food using cream sauces, they are simple but there is complexity in the ingredients themselves.

The beets I grew in the home garden I started six years ago, as well as the ones grown in the partner farm for two to three years, absorb nourishing materials from the depths of the earth so they have a complex taste different from young beets. To keep that taste, I steam them in the salt kiln. I thought about making its texture better by adding cream and caviar, but I think I was able to make the simple beets a high quality and luxurious dish.

You call the farm a “garden” but it is actually located right next to your house.

Mr. Colagreco :
Yes. The different climates depending on the area of Menton, or micro-seasons, relate to the existence of both sea and mountains. There is a huge wall of rock in the northern area and it absorbs the heat from the sun and keeps the area warm. Therefore, you can harvest vegetables in winter. Menton is also the only place in France where bananas are grown.

Plus, it is located 300 m from the border of Italy so I go to market in Italy three times a week to buy ingredients. For example, I can get zucchini called trumpet zucchini, which I can’t buy in Menton. Even the milk has a different taste in Italy.

Ristorante Mirazur cuisine

How do you express your dishes?

Mr. Colagreco :
My dishes are lively dishes, I think. I mainly use the vegetables grown in my garden in my menu, and as there are more than four seasons it is like every day is a different season. That’s why the dishes are always changed. Mirazur is a two-star restaurant so people say, “You shouldn’t change the methods if you want to get three stars” but I can’t do that. I may need to face risks but my style is to express the moment of the changing seasons every day.

I heard that you feel your restaurant is “alive.”

Mr. Colagreco :
I started my restaurant in 2006 with two other kitchen staff. It’s already been 12 years but I am still young so I feel like the restaurant itself has grown too. I would like to take on more adventures in the future.

I think there are many long-established restaurants that have been passed down for many generations. I would like restaurant to be like those, and pass it down to the next generation. When I go to such restaurants, I feel like I am growing up with them. I like these restaurants that I feel this kind of affection toward, and I would like to create such a place. It is tough work so I don’t really think about hading it to my son, but I would like my restaurant to survive well into the future.

On the other hand, I think food trends have changed rapidly because of the development of the internet – or so many people say.

Mr. Colagreco :
I am sure that is true; this is the era of customers pursuing something new. However, every day is different. The trees in front of you grow up every day – so they are different trees on the next day, right?

For me, I feel Mirazur is a brand-new restaurant each time I open the door.

What kind of customers come to Mirazur most?

Mr. Colagreco :
There are many guests coming to Mirazur from all over the world, but 60% of them are from Europe, particularly France and Italy, and 30% are regular customers. Of course, there are changes so it is important to think about how I can attract new customers. To do so, I think the important thing is to accept children. I make the atmosphere comfortable for people with children, even babies. It is not only because they are the next generation, but I would like them to have experience in a good restaurant at a young age. To have good memories in good restaurants and enjoy complex tastes are both important, I think. Therefore, there is a kid’s menu that includes items such as ravioli, which is my grandmother’s recipe.

Ristorante Mirazur Mauro Colagreco

The strength of Mirazur is the teamwork

It must be great for these kids to grow up and visit the restaurant as adults. Also, I heard that you included an acting lesson in the staff training. You are doing interesting work.

Mr. Colagreco :
Yes, we welcome Alfredo Arias, who is originally from Argentina and is a producer in Paris, and conduct service staff trainings. Mirazur was started with a team of five, but now we have thirty-five staff members. To get along with each other, we include a team building activity in each week’s work. It is usually a small trip to the local food producers, or a training or workshop.

I conduct workshops depending on the purpose. For example, the workshop for fragrance and flavor development for kitchen staff, and an acting lesson which I asked Alfredo to conduct for service staff members.

Alfredo’s workshop lasts one week and the purpose is to improve their behavior when serving, and to understand and conduct comfortable service.

Food is like a performance in which customers enjoy taste and complex views which stimulate all five senses. The service staff stand on the stage (dining room) just like actors on their stage.

The purpose of these workshops is to maintain good teamwork, give them a lesson, and allow them to discover opportunities. To work together and find something new each day to motivate us are the strengths of Mirazur.

(Interview, Text, Photography : Kyoko Nakayama)

Ristorante Mirazur Mauro Colagreco
Chef Mauro colagreco at Restaurant Mirazur in Menton south of France

Ristorante Mirazur Mauro Colagreco

Ristorante Mirazur

+33 4 92 41 86 86
30 Avenue Aristide Briand, 06500 Menton, France
About a 20-minute walk from Menton Garavan Station
12:15 - 14:00

19:15 - 22:00
Mondays and Tuesdays