Bottura: my praise to Mauro Colagreco, the poet of a land of frontier

The chef from Francescana introduces the new book on the history of Mirazur in Mentone and its great protagonist

05-12-2018

Mauro Colagreco and Massimo Bottura

Marco Colagreco’s Mirazur in Mentone is one of the most emblematic restaurants of our times. Twelve years after its opening, the chef publishes his first cookbook, with 65 fabulous recipes and a detailed analysis of the Côte d'Azur, a world made of changing territories, overlapping maps, unfocused boundaries; a mix of languages, identities, cultures and flavours. Together they have characterised a restaurant awarded with two Michelin stars and at number three in the World’s 50Best.

With photos from Eduardo TorresMirazur depicts the kitchen: a magical place in France, though a few steps away from Italy. A place in between the Mediterranean Sea and the Maritime Alps, what with orchards and gardens. Paying strong attention to the producers whose lives are so well rooted in the region, to the abundant products which the restaurant’s team buys from local markets, this book invites readers to understand the soul behind Colagreco’s restaurant. 

Through 372 pages, he analyses his vision of gastronomy, which is based on a philosophy that guides him every day in designing the menu, using the best products available in the region: «We change every day, with the landscape. Sea, garden and mountain in 365 seasons». 

Here's the introduction toMirazur, written by Massimo Bottura.

 

The cover of Mirazur

The cover of Mirazur

The Côte d’Azur is a mythical and iconic place in the Mediterranean for those who have visited, or have at least heard about this corner tucked between France and Italy. A coastal frontier, as history teaches us, that has often been disputed. Like so many places with similar geographical and historical conditions, the identity of the Côte d’Azur is based strictly upon being the frontier, expressing with strong, unique and distinctive characteristics that exceed those coming from French, Italian and whole Mediterranean influence, a mix, in fact. They are simply from the Côte d’Azur.

Mauro Colagreco at Identità Milano 2017

Mauro Colagreco at Identità Milano 2017

It isn’t easy to interpret such a complex territory, one that breathes as much Alpine air as it does salty, maritime perfume from the waves that kiss a brilliant and dazzling riviera. Mauro Colagreco is one of its greatest interpreters because he is in love with this territory. He has accepted the challenge of opening a restaurant in the confines between Italy and France, making the roots of his Italian heritage flow with his French education at one of the most important French maisons. Because Menton isn’t beyond the frontier, but right on that line of fertile land where our countries clasp hands.

An illustration from Mirazur

An illustration from Mirazur

I love Mauro’s cuisine because he knows how to be both contemporary and Mediterranean, creating a strong interpretation of the place where he draws life, which is the centre of his story. A story that’s born in the garden, his vegetables intelligently conjugated with the best fish from the Mediterranean, which is just a few metres below the restaurant, the game and meat sourced from the Alps that also share its surroundings.

Old memories: Colagreco with Paolo Marchi at Identità Milano 2011

Old memories: Colagreco with Paolo Marchi at Identità Milano 2011

Mirazur is the place where Mauro’s gastronomical research project becomes tangible and indivisible. It is the story and narrative of an attentive cook who traverses that imaginary frontier with sensitivity, awareness and with curiosity, with his eyes and mind open towards the territory in all its multiple and marvellous complexity.

Three aces: Massimo Bottura, Joan Roca, Mauro Colagreco

Three aces: Massimo Bottura, Joan Roca, Mauro Colagreco

Mauro is a generous cook. In 2015 he was one of the first to respond to my call to go to Milan to the Refettorio Ambrosiano. He rolled up his sleeves to cook lunch for school children and those in need, but it wasn’t just any old instant soup! He cut, filled and sealed by hand hundreds and hundreds of ravioli, little gestures of love for each one of our guests, and then, two years later, didn’t hesitate for one second to put on his apron and join us once again at Refettorio Félix, the community diner in London. I am sure that this book will become another must-read classic that, together with Ducasse’s La Riviera published 25 years before, will ensure that everyone will fall in love not just with Mirazur, but with this corner of the Mediterranean, of which so very few have known how to be such champions.

The book is available in English, French and Spanish from good bookshops and Amazon

Mirazur by Mauro Colagreco
Catapulta editore, November 2018, 372 pages
150 illustrations in colour and in black and white.
Price: 65 euros


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