French Riviera restaurant Mirazur was awarded a third Michelin star earlier this year, but its chef, Argentine-born Mauro Colagreco, makes a point of keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
I was born in Buenos Aires. My maternal grandfather was Italian and my father’s side was a mix of Charrúa Indians [an indigenous group in Argentina], Italians and Basques from Bilbao. I come from a family that was always cooking; these were constant acts of love.
The pressure is always phenomenal. I was working with French chef Bernard Loiseau when he committed suicide. This was 2003 and he was one of the best but he thought he would lose his third Michelin star for his restaurant, La Côte d’Or. It was a terrible time. I learned quickly that you need to survive the pressure while being in the public eye. I try very hard to keep my feet on the ground, because I don’t want to become an inflated public persona.
I arrived in France 19 years ago, and I opened Mirazur almost 13 years ago. I was 29 and I knew no one. It was a huge risk. I didn’t know the products, the people, the culture. But I started to discover the mountains, the sea, the microclimates and biomes here; it’s extremely complicated and rich. I felt like a little kid. I still do.
My style is Mediterranean freedom cuisine. We have a menu but we have to be flexible. We work with the vegetables from our garden and with small producers and fishermen. So, we build a menu according to what we can access and what is best – this is what I call freedom.
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