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Mirazur’s pop-up at Mandala Club: a behind-the-scenes look

While the Mirazur residency in Singapore is temporarily on hold, a peek at how the best restaurant in the world is run.

In 2019, French restaurant Mirazur took the top spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in an awards ceremony that was held in Singapore. Opened by chef Mauro Colagreco in 2006, the restaurant quickly rose to prominence thanks to its produce-driven, inventive cooking, as well as awe-inspiring views of the French Riviera. Now, they’re back here again – this time to run a three-month-long residency at the newly-opened Mandala Club. The Peak speaks to Mirazur’s R&D chef Luca Mattioli, who will be helming the pop-up, and working closely with Mandala Club’s executive chef Reuben Davis to realise the restaurant in Singapore.

A garden grows

To understand the restaurant, we first have to look at one of the main components of the restaurant: its sprawling garden where vegetables, herbs, fruits (citruses are particularly important to the restaurant) and flowers are grown. Everything is grown without pesticides, and following permaculture and biodynamic practices – and guests could be eating something that was just harvested minutes prior. 

Mirazur

Since the lockdowns in France in 2020, though Mirazur has undergone massive changes. “Previously, the concept was that the restaurant had a garden that provided the ingredients. Now, it’s more like the garden has an attached restaurant,” shares Mattioli. While the Mirazur’s gardens have always followed the principles of biodynamic farming, the same practices now apply to the entire experience. Following Maria Thun’s biodynamic calendar, the decor of the restaurant, drinks pairing, farewell gifts, and menu will be themed accordingly. This means that on Root day, lots of tubers and root vegetables will feature on the menu and beyond. Meanwhile Flower, Leaf, and Fruit days will see the respective ingredients highlighted. 

Concurrently, the restaurant will also revolve around projects that take on a wider picture. Given its current position and fame, Colagreco and his team have taken on the responsibility to use their platform for positive change – particularly in terms of how people are fed. Their current undertaking? Promoting the farming and use of seaweed – a category of plants that can capture more than 10 times the amount of carbon dioxide compared to land forests, serve as a source of food, and even be used to produce biofuel. 

A word about biodynamics

First developed and proposed by Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner in 1924, biodynamic farming is an organic practice that also encompasses various esoteric concepts including the harnessing of “cosmic forces”. The particular idea that Mirazur is drawing inspiration from is the belief that, following the lunar cycle, there are Leaf, Flower, Fruit, and Root days – which correspond to the ideal times to plant, harvest, or even eat said parts of a plant. This concept is normally applied to wine, where fruit and flower days are said to improve the taste and aroma of a bottle. 

The Mirazur team spent some time with the kueh specialists One Kueh at A Time

Translating the experience

Logistically, it takes 65 people to run Mirazur, where the menu changes each day. To make the Mirazur experience feasible here with 13 members of the Mirazur team, the residency at Mandala Club is a condensed version with four menus – each representing the Leaf, Root, Flower, and Fruit days of biodynamics –  done over 3 months. 

This includes transforming Mandala Club’s lounge area, and the dining room, both of which have been done with the help of local botanical design studio Humid House. Upon entering the building, guests are greeted by a “lunar garden lobby” featuring larger-than-life lanterns in the likeness of the moon, reflective surfaces, and an abundance of greenery – recalling the glimmering sea and terraced gardens of Mirazur. 

The birth of a dish

Mirazur market haul

Items found by the Mirazur team in a local wet market. Clockwise from top left: banana flower, water chestnuts, curry leaves, jicama, white clams, daikon, malabar spinach, ginger flower, conpoy.

Having worked with Colagreco for the past six years, Mattioli has come to a point where he has an intimate understanding of Colagreco’s thought process. “It’s almost like we have a telepathic relationship. Mauro can describe a particular ingredient or technique and it’s like I can feel and taste it in my mouth” he shares. This means dishes can take as short as 20 minutes to go from conception to a guest’s plate – which is particularly useful considering how the menu at Mirazur changes almost daily.

The seed for a new dish can come from anywhere – an idea, a novel ingredient, and oftentimes one of the many farmers and producers in the area surrounding the restaurant in Menton, which gets sunlight and moderate weather all year round thanks to its enviable location by the Mediterranean sea. 

  • mirazur Leaves 2

Here in Singapore, this locavore approach extends to drawing a careful balance between presenting a suitably luxurious experience for guests, and making use of produce from nearby. Already, Mattioli’s working with roughly 30 per cent of regional local produce for the residency – although this number could go up as the team grows their understanding of these ingredients. For example, Mattioli’s by the ginger flowers that he found in a local wet market, which boast flavours like he’s never encountered. Meanwhile, fresh, crisp celtuce has already made the menu, appearing in a dish with burrata, cream, herb oil, and caviar.

The beverage programme

Just as important to the whole restaurant experience are the drinks. Argentina-born, Denmark based sommelier Juliana Carrique is in charge of this just for the Singapore residency, and has curated a list of 320 wine labels, a non-alcoholic pairing option, cocktails, and digestifs. The wines have been chosen to give a sense of travel – with bottles (both classic and natural) ranging from classics, to something they call the “Mirazur Terroir” – which consists of wineries surrounding the restaurant in Menton. Label to look out for include Provence’s Chateau Simone, and the matter-of-factly named Qvevri Wine Cellar, a producer from Georgia.