Mauro Colagreco: give me a burger and I’ll change the world. The talented Giovanna Abrami explains how in this piece
Chef Pino Cuttaia – two Michelin stars with his La Madia in Licata – once made us notice how the homely and domestic food par excellence, lasagne, should in fact be considered a luxury food and be given – even financially – a very different value, considered the number of professions involved, what with fresh egg pasta, ragù sauce, bechamel, parmigiano and tomato sauce. The farmer who raised the hens, to get the eggs; the labourer who reaped the wheat, the miller, the breeder who looked after his cows and milked them, the dairy producers who made butter and parmigiano from that milk, the butcher who selected the best cuts. We believe this same approach can be applied to another comfort food par excellence, that is to say burgers – which also have a layered soul, like lasagna – and this applies, without any doubt, to the hamburguesas gourmet that Mauro Colagreco, patron at Mirazur in Menton, 3 Michelin star since 2019 and now best chef in the world according to The 50 World’s Best Restaurant 2019, presents in a chain of burger restaurants called CARNE, in his “amada Argentina”.
Hamburguesa Completa: artisanal bread, organic tomato, onion and lettuce, free range meat, artisanal cheddar, eggs from free range farm hens, pancetta from pigs raised with no antibiotics and no hormones, cucumbers pickled on the same day they were picked. Nine luxury ingredients
In this sense, one of the goals of CARNE is indeed to redefine the concept of luxury, applying fine dining principles to an accessible and mass market food. It was conceived and designed, from the start, as a fast food chain – that is to say a series of restaurants offering simple and fast food in terms of preparation and fruition –CARNE’s concept is not about unusual pairings, exclusive ingredients or experimental cooking systems. But in the meticulous choice of every ingredient, every supplier, and of the way in which each element is produced, following extremely high-quality standards, respecting the pillars of sustainable gastronomy, and in the hope of promoting a change of paradigm in food production. When we choose what to eat, we choose how we want to live. Eating, in this sense, is a political act. Choosing how to produce a food – or support the way in which it is produced – is even more of a political act, given the impact it generates on a large scale.
With this vision in mind, in January 2016, Mauro started this entrepreneurial adventure in his hometown, La Plata, with his sister Carolina who welcomes us in CARNE’s third branch, opened in 2017 right in the centre of Buenos Aires, a short walk from Casa Rosada, in San Telmo.
Carolina Colagreco and her husband Rafaél Lima, president at CARNE
Mauro Colagreco with the Empresa B certificate, which acknowledges CARNE’s triple positive impact: economic, social and environmental
The artisanal Arytza mustard, from agroecological ingredients, made without artificial additives and preservatives
Hamburguesa vegetariana with cheddar and mushrooms, turmeric bread with sunflower seeds and black sesame seeds, made by Sebastián Perez in his artisanal laboratory El Arrobo, Panadería & Compañía
To the left, Carolina Colagreco and Zuccardi’s Zuelo oil, one of the luxury ingredients used in Colagreco’s fast-food chain. To the right, the artisanal ketchup made by Guillermo Frusto at PampaGourmet with agroecological tomatoes. While the Dijon mustard is made by Leo Merlo’s Arytza. Both have no chemical additives and preservatives
At CARNE they use as many as 25 varieties of tomatoes, in the name of flavour and of the preservation of biodiversity
Salad with six varieties of tomatoes, white and yellow peaches, green and red basil, toasted almonds and flakes of unrefined salt from the Argentinian Patagonia
In the making – simple but luxurious ingredients. "The greatest Wealth is Health", as the American say
In 2017 CARNE received an award from Círculo de Creativos Argentinos for its packaging
Tintillo - “to be drunk cold” - from Santa Julia, a historic winery owned by the Zuccardi family. Produced with carbon maceration, pressing the entire grapes with no destemming, it results in a fruity and fresh wine, with an excellent acidity (89 points from Parker for the 2016 harvest)
The Sense of Responsibility (which is the theme chosen for the Identità Milano 2020 congress) has found space for the first time this year in the Michelin Guide too: on top of the traditional stars, the red guide has given a special acknowledgement, in the shape of a five petal clover, to the places that stood out for their “praiseworthy environmental practices”. The goal, in the words of Gwendal Poullennec, the Guide’s international director, is to give visibility to these good examples and «make the entire sector, the clients and the population in general sensible to the topic».
Among the restaurants that received this acknowledgement - ça va sans dire – there’s Mirazur which, on top of this new “green star” has received the Plastic Free Certificationtoo, given by an Italian organisation, which acknowledge the restaurant plastic-free status and the fact that environmental sustainability is applied to the entire production process.
Plastic Free Certification: the first global brand (launched by a start up from Abruzzo) that certifies the removal of single-use plastic, the minimising of waste, the right recycling procedures, the environmental procedures of the entire production process. Mirazur is the first company in the world to get this certification
CARNE is a plastic free fast food. A great example: no plastic straws, plates, bottles or cutlery. The straws can be reused and are made with vegetal, ecologic and biodegradable materials by Bioconexiòn, in Yala, in the region of Jujuy, in the north west corner of the country. The glasses are made by recycling bottles of beer
Rafaèl Lima, president at CARNE, with some of the staff. In the middle, Ezequiel Viqueira, ex Four Seasons, dining room director in Calle Defensa, in the centre of Buenos Aires
«Our employees have been working with us for years» Rafaél Lima, Mauro’s brother in law and the president at CARNE confirms. He explains in detail the company’s policies on contracts and labour unions and on constant training (even through a virtual academy), with a focus on motivation, sharing, and getting everyone in the team involved.
Good for the palate, for health, for the planet, for the environment, for the safeguarding of biodiversity, for society, local communities, employees, suppliers. It’s Colagreco, after all. We expected no less from someone who uses a quote by Ernesto Che Guevara for his brigade in the kitchen at Mirazur: “Seamos realistas, hagamos lo imposible” (“Let’s be realists, let’s do the impossible”). But without any naïf idealism, this approach translates into concrete and aware choices that result in the high quality of the food served at CARNE, in the name of simplicity, and with the ideal goal of promoting a change in the way food products are made. «Perhaps we’re just a drop in the sea – Rafaèl Lima told us – but the world can change through example and through changing ideas».
"Seamos realistas, hagamos lo imposible" (Let’s be realists, let’s make the impossible), a quote from Che, hanging on the wall in the kitchen at Mirazur. (courtesy of Luca Mattioli, sous chef)
The most beautiful definition of utopia, in my opinion, is the one erroneously attributed to Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, but which should be attributed, as Galeano himself pointed out endless times, to the brilliant and talented Argentinian director Fernando Birri. «Utopia is on the horizon. I know very well I’ll never reach it: if I take ten steps, it will move ten steps further. The closer I get, the further it moves. So what’s the use of utopia? This is its use: it keeps us walking».
Walking in the right direction, trying to make a better world for our children, a commitment for which, by his own admission, Mauro Colagreco would like to be remembered one day.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
Reviews, recommendations and trends from the four corners of the planet, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose
born in 1979 in Milan, her mother is from Alto Adige and her father is a Croatian grown up in Trieste: she’s the daughter of Italian irredentism and is strongly attracted by the southern hemisphere. She has written (for Diario and Agrisole among others), translated (includingPellegrino Artusi’sLa scienza in Cucina ), eaten and tasted – without ever stopping taking pictures – in Argentina, Chile and Guatemala for over 5 years. Since she had to move to Italy, she went as south as she could. Since 2016 she lives in Sicily, and collaborates with Wine in Sicily and Identità Golose
Chef Mauro Colagreco and one of the dishes on his menu dedicated to fruit that most impressed us: Zucchini and Hermit crab
The Kulm Hotel in Sankt Moritz and chef Mauro Colagreco
Mauro Colagreco with Audrey Azoulay, Unesco's Director-General, as she awards the Italian-Argentinian chef with the title of Unesco Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity