Mauro Colagreco's brand CARNE is arriving in Singapore (in the background, the three famous towers of Marina Bay). This is part of a strategy focusing on the Far East. The choice of Asia to expand this project is not a coincidence: superpopulation and the current models of production and consumption of food are a challenge for the revolutionary model of this fast-food chain, which respects and promotes the pillars of sustainable gastronomy.
«The most substantial discovery I have made is that I cannot waste any more time doing things I don't want to do». This quote from Sorrentino's Jep Gambardella came to mind when listening to Mauro Colagreco's thoughts on 2020. It took the protagonist of The Great Beauty 65 years to come up with this, it took Mauro "only" a pandemic to accelerate this awareness process, where that “things I don't want to do”, should be replaced with “all the things that don't match my philosophy”: no more compromises. Colagreco no longer wants to give space to the superfluous, to what doesn't go in the same direction in which his will aims: «Last year, which was undoubtedly difficult in many aspects and on many levels, I had the chance to re-evaluate many things and I became fully aware of what was superfluous. I no longer want to give space to what doesn't agree with my vision».
This is the approach with which the Argentinian chef, three Michelin stars with his Mirazur in Menton, at the top of the 2019 World’s 50 Best Restaurant, ended 2020 and approached 2021.
He does so with two new openings, a new CARNE restaurant, just opened in Mendoza in Argentina, and fine dining restaurant Côte, opened on the 1st of October in Bangkok, and with the approaching opening in 2021: another CARNE branch, in Singapore, a town that Colagreco holds particularly dear as it was here that he received, in 2019, the prize for best restaurant in the world with his Mirazur.
Mauro Colagreco and his 'utopian' burgers
Rico, Sostentable y Responsable, de esto se trata CARNE, that is to say "Good, Sustainable and Responsible, this is CARNE". You can read these words on the walls of the brand-new restaurant in Mendoza. «Our response to the unprecedented instability and uncertainty with which we all had to deal with in 2020 is hope» Colagreco told us. «Despite all that is happening, we can only move forward» his sister Carolina echoed him on the other side of the ocean. With her, Mauro in 2016 started the project of the chain of sustainable burger restaurants CARNE, of which the first opening in 2016 in their hometown, La Plata, was only the first step. Since then a restaurant in Olivos, one in Buenos Aires and one Mendoza, opened in December 2020, and in 2021, the opening of the fifth restaurant, the first abroad: in February CARNE will open in Singapore.
That of CARNE and its global expansion is a project which the Argentine chef holds very dear, so much so he explained it's a priority for 2021. Opened in 2016 in La Plata, his hometown, with his sister Carolina, the first CARNE was gradually joined by other branches: Olivos and Buenos Aires, in 2017, Mendoza in December 2020 and now Singapore with the claim “This is not junk food/This is good food”.
«This is the first step abroad for this project» Mauro says with satisfaction. The idea of expanding CARNE outside Argentina was born with the project – it was only slowed down by the pandemic – and is part of the DNA of the very concept of this fast-food that aspires to promote a change in the food production models. A seemingly simple format – like the recipes the chef presents at Mirazur – but behind which in fact there are complex and significant elements of research, philosophy, sensitivity, skill, ideas, as we explained already here. Indeed, we can talk of a “CARNE-philosophy”.
A mission that in Asia is a real challenge given the density of the population and the consequent model of food production. Which, according to the Argentinian chef, must change as soon as possible: «After travelling around Asia for many years, I have understood that the diet challenge is here, where we have the largest populations and where the current system wants people to believe that it's not possible to feed the global population in a way that's right for both the people and the environment».
Beppe De Vito
Beppe De Vito will be his business partner in this adventure. Originally from Bitonto, he already owns in Singapore the ilLido group which he created in 2006 and includes seven restaurants including Braci (one Michelin star since 2017).
Also in Asia, but in this case in Thailand, Mauro recently opened a new fine dining restaurant Côte by Mauro Colagreco, opened in Bangkok on the 1st of October after a few weeks of soft opening. «In this case it's a more gastronomic and less popular concept – the chef told us. – Thailand is one of the great cradles of Asian culinary culture and is a great source of inspiration for me. Another nice challenge: that of facing such a great culinary culture, and to do so using the incredible raw materials produced locally. This opens new lines of inspiration and creativity».
On the second floor of hotel Capella in Bangkok, also recently opened, Côte, seating 45 people, offers a nine-course carte blanche menu, just like Mirazur, made by chef Davide Garavaglia, 31, from Milan, who worked beside Colagreco in Menton for six year and is in constant dialogue with him to shape this new project. «It was difficult and a little frustrating not to be there in person, even in the preparation stage» Colagreco told us, given it was impossible for him to join Garavaglia in Bangkok because of the pandemic, and so he had to guide him from afar: «Luckily I could rely on Davide who, on top of being very talented, has a perfect knowledge of my cuisine and knows the direction I want to take with this project».
Davide Garavaglia: nato a Corbetta (Milano) 31 anni fa, ha studiato presso l’Istituto alberghiero Carlo Porta di Milano. Terminati gli studi ha lavorato al D’O di Davide Oldani, poi successivamente a Londra per Pierre Gagnaire, per approdare, nel 2012, al Mirazur di Mauro Colagreco dove, dice, rimane “folgorato” e dove rimane fino a dicembre del 2018. Da gennaio del 2019 si sta occupando come head chef della nuova apertura del ristorante Côte a Bangkok.
Côte: a name that recalls Côte d’Azur and the Coast of Liguria too, the Riviera, just like his culinary offer which is strongly influenced by both. In the culinary identity Côte, of which for now we can only rely on Davide andMauro's presentation, different elements converge. First, the unique style of Mirazur: dishes only seemingly simple which in fact are based on the finest technique and on an accurate research and selection of the suppliers, the processing of the raw materials, the way in which they are used to make the dish, the play of contrasts, the large use of different citrus fruits. Then we have the Mediterranean culinary tradition, French and Italian, the influence of local producers and, of course, the interpretation that the young chef from Milan gives to all this: «Yes, the philosophy and the approach are my own – Colagreco points out – But every restaurant must have its own soul, and I fully trust Davide who shows a real passion for food».
Initially planned for March 2019, the opening was postponed by one year and a half both for delays in the building of the hotel, and because of the pandemic. Davide left Mirazur in December 2018 to move to Bangkok in January 2019 and to finally open Côte last October. Here below are some of the dishes that the young chef from Milan presents in the capital of Thailand.
Some of the dishes by Garavaglia at Colagreco's restaurant in Bangkok. Here Flower of artichokes, a perfect example of the different influences that converge in the dishes at Côte.
Handmade trofie, basil pesto and razor clams
Cappon magro, salsa verde and caviar
The response from the locals – who for now are the only who can enjoy this new gourmet offer – was excellent right from the start, and already in November both shifts were fully booked.
While 2019 was a triumphant year for Mauro Colagreco, with the most important acknowledgements, the year when his Mirazur got the third Michelin star and reached the top of The World’s 50 Best Restaurant, 2020 was decisively different, just like it has been for all his colleagues, all around the world. Yet Colagreco doesn’t damn it: «It was a very difficult year, with many personal, professional and spiritual challenges. I'm happy it is finally over. What's important is that all we have experienced has served for something, that it was not in vain».
Still, the Argentinian chef has closed the annus horribilis of global catering with three new openings that confirm two things: first that Mauro Colagreco is a force of nature, and second that the patron of Mirazur is not superstitious: his project scattered around three continents are now 17, a number that in any case will not stay unchanged for long. There's a revolution to be done and Colagreco is looking for partners or “apostles”, as he calls them, who can help him spread the CARNE-philosophy around the world. Anyone interested?
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
MAURO COLAGRECO AROUND THE WORLD:
Mirazur, Menton, France
Vista Playa, Menton, France
Pecora Negra, Menton, France
Casa Fuego, Menton, France
Azur, Beijing, China
Grill 58°, Macao, China
Le Siècle, Nanchang, China
GrandCœur, Paris, France
BFire, Courchevel, France
BFire, Cannes, France
CARNE, La Plata, Argentina
CARNE, Olivos, Argentina
CARNE, Buenos Aires, Argentina
CARNE, Mendoza, Argentina
CARNE, Singapore (opening in February 2021)
Côte, Bangkok, Thailand
Florie's, Palm Beach, United States
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