The Argentinian, who lives in France, will return to Madrid – where he is still considering opening a restaurant in the near future – to tell us about his experience with his “Lunar Menu” – a menu served according to lunar cycles during the months the restaurant was open last year. “It’s been an opportunity for us to get closer to our clients and for our clients to get closer with nature”, he says.
Mirazur being currently closed – like all restaurants in France — Colagreco will be moving to Singapore temporarily with a pop-up restaurant, but he keeps mulling over the “reconnection” he has experienced during the pandemic and that’s strengthened his commitment to sustainability. “It is time to plan a better future for the next generations”, he calls out. And we’re listening.
How is Mauro Colagreco today?
This is a very difficult time for our industry around the world. In France, we’ve been closed since October, but we receive significant help from the government. This, and in our case having had a great season during the months we were able to reopen, has allowed us to keep our teams intact. Nevertheless, of course, we know this is a very difficult time in other contexts.
Since the beginning, it seems that you’ve been able to weather the situation well, focusing on the “positive” side of this experience.
I’m an optimist, and I’d rather focus my energy on seeing the bright side of this crisis, although it isn’t self-evident. But it’s true, this is a special time for us to make the most of our visibility and express our commitment to look after the Earth. It is time to work ever harder at raising awareness about the beauty and fragility of life. About the need to look after our surroundings and being instrumental in a change that helps us plan a better future for the next generations.
Let’s focus on this one for now. With your restaurant in Menton closed, you’re taking your experience to Singapore.
That’s right. We’re going to take the Mirazur experience to Singapore with a three-month pop-up. We’re very happy. Singapore is a city with wide spectrum of excellent restaurants. We’ve also just opened the first branch of our international chain of sustainable hamburger restaurants “Carne”, there. These are two very different types of establishments but with the same ethos: premium ingredients, local producers and environmental awareness.
Although it’s been closed, Mirazur did open for a few months and you served the “Lunar Menu”. What do you take from this experience?
We opened in June, after the first lockdown, and we had to close again in October. The experience was excellent. The “Lunar Menu” was extremely well received, and it’s been an opportunity to practise a different, closer to nature, way of interacting with our guests. It’s been beautiful to see that what we’d felt was very real: after this time of lockdown, people were prepared to enjoy an immersive experience in our gardens and were more receptive to a discourse about the cycles of nature and a vision of the Earth as a living being.
“The key challenge for the next few years will be about the need to find our balance again and for the Earth to find its balance too.”
The menu, your words… The pandemic has reinforced your connection to nature.
Indeed. But in truth this connection had always been there. What happened with lockdown was a striking change in pace. Personally, it’s been very hard and very sudden. This change in pace has allowed me to deepen this connection and make it part of my everyday life, beyond the restaurant’s kitchen. I think that’s set in now, and with the second lockdown, what arose was a need for balance. To balance our activities, the way we consume, our times. The key challenge for the next few years will be about the need to find our balance again and for the Earth to find its balance too.
As though you’d conferred about it, this year, Madrid Fusión focuses on circular economy and sustainability in haute cuisine. How do you see your participation?
I want to talk about our experience. To tell people about our “Lunar Menu”, which is entirely inspired in what we do in our gardens – a menu that helps us open up to the subtle realms that go through us and connect us to the Earth and the Cosmos, but that we don’t always perceive, simply because we’re not trained to do it. Above all I want to stress the significance of education and the transmission of knowledge whose premise is caring for life. This is the challenge our societies are facing.
The ties of Mirazur and the Colagreco family with Spain are continuous. We got your Valentine’s day delivery and you’ve mentioned your plans to open a branch of Carne here too. How is the project coming along?
We’ve already hosted a Mirazur pop-up in Madrid before, and we’re very happy with the Valentine’s Day experience. We’ll do it again no doubt. Regarding Carne, we will open the first European branch (the original restaurant is in Argentina) at the end of this year in Paris. We’re very excited about being in the Spanish capital too but we haven’t set a date yet.
Another final question about new sustainability-related projects. You recently mentioned that you were planning to open a restaurant connected to an algae farm that would filter sea water. How is that going?
We’re involved in several projects that focus on caring for our mother Earth. We believe that we are responsible for the world we live in and we need to make a strong commitment to projects that carry this vision to bring about the changes we need. At the global level, Carne is precisely about that, and it has the potential to reach a large number of people through a simple, widely available food like hamburgers. More locally, our Mitron bakery and the work we do with old grain varieties has the same objective. Food is much more than something that nourishes our bodies, it can also heal the Earth and build a more balanced future for our children.