Chef Mauro Colagreco of three Michelin-starred Mirazur opens new restaurant at Capella Singapore

He also shares his idea of comfort food and what constitutes a perfect weekend.

Colagreco started to cook at the age of 20 (Photo: Mauro Colagreco/Mirazur)

The celebrated Italian-Argentine chef — who made history by being the first non-French recipient of three Michelin stars for his famed French Riviera restaurant Mirazur — on what it takes to succeed as a chef.

Options: It has been an exciting few years for you but, first, congratulations on opening your latest restaurant, Fiamma at the Capella Singapore recently.
Mauro Colagreco: It’s been fantastic. Opening Cote by Mauro Colagreco at the Capella in Bangkok is amazing, as I love Thai food and the city so much. I have been so lucky to have had this opportunity to work with the Capella Group. They had approached me many years ago to talk about the Bangkok project, long before I won The World’s 50 Best Restaurants award in 2019. I really appreciate this partnership between us. This feeling, this sense of respect, goes both ways. I am also very happy that Cote received a Michelin star from the Michelin Guide Thailand recently too.

Tell us a little about Fiamma, your latest restaurant, which opened in early July.
Cote, as you know, takes its name from the Cote d’Azur, where Mirazur is located, while Fiamma means ‘flame’. It is inspired by childhood memories watching my grandmother cook and the dishes she put on the table. Food — preparing it and serving people — is a method for sharing affection. My grandmother was a very loving person. Food was always part of my family life and Fiamma’s cuisine will weave Italian culinary traditions with open-flame cooking techniques … using the freshest produce always, of course.


Fiamma is a salute to the heritage and spirit of Italian family cuisine (Photo: Fiamma)

So are there plans to open another restaurant when Capella debuts its highly anticipated resort in Niseko’s Hanazono district in 2024/25?
I don’t know. They didn’t ask me … yet (laughs).

What was your original ambition in life?
I don’t remember what I wanted to be as a child and, you know, I only started to cook at the age of 20. I never thought I would end up in the kitchen, to be honest. I studied literature in Argentina, followed by economics in university, which I didn’t complete after the first two years. It was then that I began helping out a friend who had opened a restaurant in Buenos Aires. I decided it was just something to do while I figured out my next steps but, wow, working in the kitchen was like a revelation for me … as if a light bulb just went off in my head. I was 23 when I decided to go to culinary school — the Lycee Hotelier de La Rochelle, in the southwest of France. And, now, here we are.

What would your advice be then to young people who want a successful career in F&B?
The most important thing is to be open-minded. You need to want to learn every day, every time. And, as much as possible, try to be yourself. Being yourself is a lesson I learnt from my first teacher, [the great French chef] Bernard Loiseau, with whom I did my apprenticeship. It was he who introduced me to classic French sauces. I then worked for Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée and then L’Arpège with Alain Passard. From them, I learnt attention to detail and the art of cooking vegetables respectively.


Alain Ducasse of Plaza Athénée (Photo: Plaza Athénée)

What do you eat when you’re off-duty?
Very simple food. The simplest food. You would find me cutting open a tomato, drizzling it with olive oil and then just a sprinkle of sea salt. Oh, and basil, of course. My grandfather grew tomatoes in his garden and eating them brings back such good memories.

And what would be the best thing you have ever eaten?
For sure, my grandmother’s pasta! My favourite would have to be her ravioli, made with spinach, cheese and brains.

With your extensive knowledge and love of books, who would you recommend we read for a sample of Argentine literature?
Jorge Luis Borges, definitely. He has written so many books, so it is hard for me to recommend one, but you will find he has the ability to transmit the feeling, the spirit of Argentina through his words. It can be sensual, dramatic sometimes, but always profound.

And what about music? What do you like listening to?
Soft jazz, but preferably instrumental jazz.

What is your travel schedule looking like for the rest of 2022?
I have been travelling extensively; first to Bangkok and then Singapore. So, it is time to go back to the South of France after this … to spend more time at Mirazur and with my family, of course.


Mirazur was voted World's Best Restaurant in 2019 (Photo: Mirazur)

And where would your all-time favourite food destination be?
Without a doubt, Japan. Hokkaido, of course, for the amazing produce. The dairy products are exceptional and the tuna as well. I also love eating soba and I remember being in Kyoto and eating this amazing bowl of noodles. It is a pity I can’t remember the name of the shop but the taste was just extraordinary and the experience lingers still in my memory.

Describe your idea of a perfect weekend.
It would have to be spent in the company of my wife, Julia, and two children, preferably in a wild and quiet place like the plains of the Camargue in France or Corsica. I love Corsica.    

This article first appeared on Aug 1, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.

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