Mirazur at Mandala Club: Bringing the world's best restaurant to Singapore
An unlikely arrival
There's something about success stories that resonate so well with the masses. On the cusp of make/break, accomplishing something against the odds brings a certain respite that even strangers can cheer on. Which is probably a longstanding sentiment that our F&B industry has had to endure since the peak of the pandemic, and even till now, we're not exactly out of the woods.
But it's a long and enduring game that our city is playing — with a slew of new restaurants (some to replace the defunct), including a famed one that's on everyone's lips — Mirazur from Menton, France. Not only is it ranked no.1 on World's 50 Best Restaurants since 2019, but also comes with 3 Michelin stars, along with that accolade. Of course, its arrival on our shores is temporal, with a three-month residency at Mandala Club, which had to be adjusted accordingly after Singapore announced its Heightened Alert two months ago.
CEO of Mandala Club, Ben Jones says: "Culinary excellence through innovation is at the very heart of who we are at Mandala Club. We are relentless in the pursuit of creating exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our members and community. While thinking about how to utilise our ground floor club space, the idea of creating a stage for delivering really special experiences came to us, especially since diners in Singapore have such an appetite for extraordinary concepts, more so than ever in times like this."
Pulling off an international pop-up like this would have already held its own set of challenges, but in the murky climate of COVID-19 looming? A tall order for the Mirazur team as well as Mandala Club (officially launching in Fall 2021). Ironically, it is also probably worth noting that the pandemic also contributed to the fruition of Mirazur's stint, as the restaurant in Menton was shut during the lockdown in France, giving chef-patron Mauro Colagreco proper bandwidth to take on the pop-up after being approached by Jones.
Chef Mauro Colagreco in the garden of Mirazur in Menton, France
Chef Mauro shares: "We spoke about the space and opportunity, and at that time, it seemed like the right timing as Mirazur in Menton was still closed. Asia offers culinary products that we cannot find in Europe... or in South America!"
That aside, our city also holds a special place in his heart. "It was here that I received the World's No.1 restaurant for Mirazur from World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2019. More than that, we believe that Singapore is the platform for excellence for new concepts and avant-garde gastronomy. From street food and gastronomic restaurants, my culinary experiences every time I visit the city have been extraordinary and a real source of inspiration for me and my cuisine."
Mirazur presented by Mandala Club
Of course, unlike an international pop-up without a global pandemic, the team at Mandala Club and Mirazur had some hoops to jump through. "In light of the current Covid-19 situation, we did not have the luxury of organising multiple visits for the Mirazur team prior to the residency, and also had to constantly update our plans and measures while adapting to the ever-evolving situation, but we rose to the challenge all the same to make this extraordinary event happen," shares Jones.
It is hard to believe that the idea of a potential residency only happened four months ago. And here we are in July, with Mirazur already passed its first month here at Mandala Club. And not without meticulous thought and set-up. Because beyond its glitzy namesake, Mirazur is lauded for its notable vision — a renewed one that transpired last year during the lockdown — with an ingredient-centric menu yielded by the lunar cycle. A transformation of the space in Mandala Club was necessary to make this pop-up an authentic representation of the brand. After all, the restaurant in Menton, France sits upon five hectares of gardens, with permaculture and biodynamics being the bedrock of the restaurant, which translated to The Humid House in Singapore recreating a lunar garden with porous textures and overhead foliage at Mandala Club. To translate the similar ethos from Menton, plenty had to be done to transform the space at the club. "I would say it was definitely quite a substantial investment— we have gone to the extent of renovating both the Clan Café and KIN, purchasing new furniture, crockery, glassware and installing new artwork — all to create a perfect, otherworldly experience for our members and guests," adds Jones.
Leaves - Scallop, uni, and hay hollandaise
And interiors aside, the food at Mirazur is unlike anything else, with chef Mauro's recent vision of tracing the garden's biodynamics via the lunar cycle. From there, the restaurant bases the entirety of its menu on the produce's prime form, according to the lunar calendar. He didn't want Mirazur to be a restaurant that had a garden, but rather wanted Mirazur to be a garden that had a restaurant.
Leaves - Sage and Comte
Head chef at Mirazur, Luca Mattioli recounts the turning point of the restaurant last year: "When he [chef Mauro] told us about the idea of creating four different menus according to the four cycles, we thought he was crazy. But we started to study while in lockdown and went into R&D, while also engaging people who worked in NASA to find out about how the moon affects our diets. From the period of March to October last year, we created 182 new recipes in line with the new philosophy." Currently, all of the vegetables and produce in Mirazur's garden are cultivated with the biodynamic process, which is something the restaurant champions. Chef Luca also comes from a background of farmers, which explains his shared passion to bring this unique culinary vision to life. The 31-year-old is also the man responsible for leading the team of 11 from Mirazur in this residency, alongside 55 staff members from the club's kitchen team. "In Mirazur, if we have a product, it's like a mantra for tomorrow. If it's not the best, we don't have to use it. We can change the plate entirely for it," he muses.
Leaves - Chlorophyll Aspic and clams
Four distinct menus are at the core of the restaurant: Roots, Leaves, Flowers, and Fruits, which showcase ingredients at their best according to the moon's cycle. With every switch of the menu at Mirazur's residency in Mandala Club, so will the interiors.
Spearheading an extensive pop-up of this measure was a huge responsibility for chef Luca, and although he jumped at the chance, he had his fair share of challenges. First, starting with COVID-19 regulations. The team from France had to get tested plenty, prior to their departure for Singapore, before the two weeks of quarantine. The second had to come down to the question of produce. "We come from a restaurant where almost 60% of all our vegetables come from the garden and 95% of our products comes from the region and here in Singapore you have 90% of imported food so it's like going across the other spectrum," says chef Luca. But with support from the local team as well as doing the legwork of exploring Singapore's very own, suppliers like Edible Garden City, Toh Thye San, Crab Lovers Farm, Bootles, and others came into play. He also made vital connections with chef Julien Royer of Odette — with recommendations of imported suppliers around the region.
Leaves - Pork Millefeuille
But with ingredients and produce being one of the main changes of the pop-up, how could the lunar cycle take effect? Chef Luca explains: "I think that [the residency] Singapore was intended to be more like a showcase of what our work is, as a point of entry, and introduce the philosophy to the people here."
Whilst the menu at Mirazur's pop-up at Mandala Club has been completely reinvented and reimagined, some signature dishes have been retained with a twist, given the change in produce. However fresh and seasonal are still the key factors of making sure an ingredient can go up on a plate. Chef Mauro adds: "Our team is visiting the market everyday and bringing back fresh produce. If there is an excellent ingredient we want to use in our menu, we will develop a new dish on the spot, even if it is one hour before service." This residency will no doubt, be one of Singapore's most interesting culinary endeavours. With blessings of the moon, a transcendent backstory, and a blind tasting menu, the stars are pretty much aligned for this bold and unexpected experience.
Mirazur presented by Mandala Club will be in service till 4 September 2021. Limited slots have been reopened for public booking via www.mandala.club.