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Mauro Colagreco: 'A Good Product will always be the Basis of a Good Dish'

Mauro Colagreco: 'A Good Product will always be the Basis of a Good Dish'

A chat with the sponsor of last Chef's Summit about the environment and the role of the chef: "Vandana Shiva's conference opened my mind".

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Mauro Colagreco, chef of the two Michelin starred Mirazur restaurant in Menton, was the godfather of the 2018 Chef's World Summit in Monaco.

For three days, the greatest chefs from around the world gathered in the Principality to discuss important topics such as training and recruitment but especially the eco-responsibility of chefs.

Mauro Colagreco reflects on this 2018 edition and on the key points to remember:

You were the godfather of Chef's World Summit 2018. How did you take on this role?
It was both a great responsibility but also an honour. One of my missions was to invite celebrity chefs and non-chefs, who share a sense of duty towards the environment. We all have a role to play and I was very touched to see how many delegates responded to my call out. The main theme of this third edition was the environment.

What were the main issues raised by the leaders during the various debates?
All speakers contributed with their own reflection on solutions to sour the least harmful products for the planet. There were captivating conversations between chefs and various specialists, scientists and thinkers with a real exchange of best practices. Each explained the ecological steps put in place in their activities. The Monaco Oceanographic Museum, for example, has introduced a new type of trawler designed for sustainable fishing that preserves endangered species such as turtles. One of the most special conferences I attended was with Vandana Shiva, who with wise and simple words portrayed the current global scenario and showed us the way to reconnect with the earth.

At your level, how do you respond to these issues of carbon footprint and food waste?
All the Mirazur team have implemented actions for a few years already: feeding the garden that feeds us with compost, cultivating the garden with organic techniques using permaculture techniques, working in short circuit supply chains with small local producers, using seasonal products, banning the use of plastic, etc ....

And on a global scale, what is the role of leaders?
In my opinion, the chefs have an educational mission. Those who choose short-circuit supply chains and work virtuously must communicate it and share it with their collaborators, their customers, as well as with other chefs. Together we can find innovative solutions and it is at shows like the Chef's World Summit that these types of ideas are exchanged.

How do you choose your producers? Do you prefer those who have eco-responsible labels, or do you prefer to go there, on their farm, to see how they work?
It's a long process that I started when I arrived in Menton. We go through the small local markets and discuss, taste, visit farms and so over time forge friendly and lasting relationships.

What do you think of the increase in the number of vegetarians / vegans in the world?
There is a real global awareness that is accelerating through social networks and giving the ability to see behind the scenes. Abuse of animals in particular but also the consequences of certain abuses in the consumption of red meat.

Do you think young chefs are more aware of environmental issues than their elders?
The younger generation of chefs grow up with this awareness for the environment. But that does not mean that their elders do not think about it and do not make adjustments. On the contrary, perhaps, the elders for some have also grown up with the culture of small farmers and regional farmers who will have been a time dethroned by intensive farming. A good chef is in any case in contact with the product and knows that despite the talent, a good product will always be the basis of a good plate.

If you had to give advice to a young chef who is opening his first restaurant, what would it be?
My piece of advice would be to respect and value the product and to do this its producer; learn to surround yourself with people who share the same values, the same desire for quality, the desire for products that do good.

A message of hope for the future?
I have the feeling that the small revolution to eat better that's been unravelling for a few years will not weaken, quite the contrary. By respecting the environment, our mother earth, we respect ourselves and we all have to win.

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