May 20, 2021

Mauro Colagreco brings his infamous lunar menus to the heart of Singapore.

When the newly reshuffled hospitality group, The Mandala Group announced its inaugural red carpet look to be one that entailed having the world’s number one restaurant, Mirazur as arm candy, I felt antsy. Last February, I had an exalted dining experience at the 3-Michelin star restaurant and what I would term “the kind of love that is worth crossing continents for.”

Now, I cannot claim it to be a secret anymore, especially given its feted status as the top restaurant in the world. My meal back then felt quixotic. I arrived in Côte d’Azur after enduring numerous train halts due to transportation strikes and a 4-hour long lunch that spoke of a chef’s confounding sense of belonging in his environment was worth every blippin penny. 

This is not about being small-minded, but I question whether or not Singaporeans diners will experience the same mystic rapture at Mandala Club (aka the erstwhile Straits Clan). Can the same experience of rurality and ode to biodynamic agriculture be emulated in the Lion City?

Chef Mauro Colagreco is quick to address those concerns. He explains that the lunar menu is anything but simple and is a “journey guided by the moon’s movement in the sky.” Similar to how the moon influences living things, it is also the main source of inspiration for the menu that will be served at the Mirazur pop-up. Diners will get the opportunity to meet the plants, animals, land and sea essences.

If you’re expecting to ravish Mirazur’s famous beetroot and cream dish, think again. “Our cuisine is very intuitive and we will adapt to the seasons that nature has offered us,” he says. Aligned with the restaurant’s strong focus on sustainability and reducing carbon footprint,  and his team have plans to incorporate and highlight local produce. Instrumental in the conceptualisation stages is chef Damian D’Silva of KIN, who is adept at weaving Singapore’s food heritage into the project. “I’m excited to have Chef Damian on board,” Colagreco exclaims. “He has shared so much knowledge about local ingredients, flavours and food culture with my team and I during the residency.”

The unveiling of this coveted tenancy is not without its drama. News of the lack of Colagreco’s exhaustive presence at the three-month-long pop-up sparked a mini backlash amongst Mandala Club members who had pre-paid for their meals. Colagreco’s response? “As Paul Bocuse says when someone first asked him: ‘Who cooks when you are not there?’ The answer remains: ‘The same people that cook when I am there.’” For this pop-up, Colagreco has flown in twelve of his most senior team members straight from the Mirazur kitchen. “They have the same rigour and passion as me and are fully capable of ensuring that the kitchen is working at the highest level,” Colagreco explains.

While he will be in Singapore for the initial stages, the kitchen will be succeeded by head chef Luca Mattioli, who has trained with Colagreco for more than five years and is currently leading research and development at Mirazur.

Before you assume that this pop-up is a watered-down version, it is not. The team will be supported by over 55 front-and back-of-house staff, many of whom will be from the KIN team, along with talents within the local hospitality industry, handpicked for their exceptional service. Amongst them is the recently crowned winner of MasterChef Singapore Derek Chong, who will join the Mirazur pop-up team as commis chef.

Mirazur’s philosophy has always been about nature and its comprehension. The pop-up menu in Singapore will reflect that via an interpretation of the restaurant’s tradition four lunar menus flecked with Singaporean influences and ingredients. In addition, Colagreco hopes to convey that through “the littlest touchpoints”—local botanicals will flourish the space by The Humid House and tasteful art pieces curated by Singapore-based art consultancy, The Artling, are set to brandish the walls.

While the Mirazur tenancy in Singapore proves to be exciting news for fine dining lovers in Asia, this is just a portion of Colagreco’s ambitious agenda to grow his footprint, with Côte in Bangkok and Carne in Singapore. “The idea is to have my Argentinian origin in South America, then discover Europe for 20 years and now discover Asia with my restaurants,” he discloses. “This satisfies me. I like to be in movement.”

When Colagreco opened Côte at the Capella Hotel and Resort, Bangkok in October last year, he recalls his creative process fondly: “It was a nice challenge to face such differences in culinary culture and to be able to do so armed with incredible raw materials,” he says. And when asked regarding the somewhat aggressive expansion in pandemic times, Colagreco adds, “The past year has indeed accelerated some processes, and now I will only dedicate time to projects that fit my philosophy. I will not compromise or allow room for things that are not aligned with my broader aims.”

Back in Cote d’Azur, Mirazur observed a drastic change from his international clientele to French and European because of travel restrictions imposed by several countries. The team has taken the lengthy closures to reinvent and reimagine Mirazur, placing the garden and nature at the heart of the operations. As France moves further out of lockdown, Colagreco intends to return to the restaurant in Menton and hopes for a summer reopening. That said, he promises that he will be back in Singapore to see the residency through.

Updates: The pop-up is currently sold out for the first three menus: Leaves, Flower and Roots. The last menu: Fruits (20 July to 11 August) will be released later this June.

Pricing: 6-course Lunch Dégustation at S$388++ (Wed-Sun), 9-course Dinner Dégustation at S$488++ (Tues-Sun)