Mirazur in Menton, France, a restaurant operated by chef Mauro Colagreco, has catapulted to the #1 spot on the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Originally from Argentina, Colagreco learned his craft working with legendary chef Alain Passard at Arpege in Paris, as well as the late Bernard Loiseau in Burgundy. His far-flung culinary empire includes restaurants in France, China, South America and the United States. He’s best known to South Floridians as the force behind Florie’s in the newly renovated Four Seasons Palm Beach.
It’s been a heady year for Colagreco, with Mirazur receiving its third Michelin star in January. Perched on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean, the menu relies heavily on produce and herbs from the chef’s garden (“When you can use fresh-cut herbs rather than herbs that are four or five days old,” he told PBI recently, “it makes an enormous difference.”). Colagreco describes himself as a “chef without borders.” Since Mirazur is located in Menton, 300 yards from Italy, he feels free to borrow from the traditions of both countries. “Not being rooted gives me a lot of freedom,” he remarked during his conversation with us. “It opens the possibility to start fresh and interpret the cuisine according to my own vision.”
The World’s 50 Best Restaurant list is compiled by British company William Reed Business Media and sponsored by San Pelligrino and Acqua Panna. It has generated controversy since its founding in 2002. Critics charge that the panel of judges who vote on the awards don’t dine anonymously and at their own expense, as the Michelin inspectors do. The list has also been called Eurocentric, and it has tended to be dominated by the same restaurants: El Bulli took the #1 spot in 2002 and 2006-9, while Rene Redzepi’s Noma earned top honor in 2010-12 and 2014.
To preserve an appearance of fairness, any restaurant previously ranked as #1 was deemed ineligible to appear on the list this year. The editors also promised more gender parity and geographical diversity, neither of which came to pass. Unlike the Michelin Guide, which evaluates restaurants solely on food quality and includes modest establishments along with palaces of grand cuisine, the 50 Best list tends to focus on the upper end of the scale; that pattern also held true in 2019.
Still, it’s not a bad day when you’re named the world’s greatest restaurant, and Palm Beach is celebrating along with Mauro.
Mark Spivak specializes in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He is the author of several books on distilled spirits and the cocktail culture. Friend of the Devil, his first novel, was released in 2016; his second novel, The American Crusade, a political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq, is now available on Amazon.