Mauro Colagreco may have arrived late to Neufeulden for GELINAZ! DOES UPPER AUSTRIA but he has clearly not lost his cool or his smile. He’s missed his early morning flight which meant that he had to make his way to Upper Austria. I was looking forward to seeing him again. I had met him a few years earlier. He was actually the first chef that I had ever interviewed for Food and Wine Gazette.
I had seen him on other occasions including at the GELINAZ! Brussels Headquarters event. The Argentinian-born chef is a fan of GELINAZ! despite his incredibly busy schedule.
“It is a small family and I am among friends. Such an event gives me the opportunity to meet new people. For established chefs, it is a way to meet people that we do not know and to see the new generation that is coming behind us but which are rising very fast,” he said.
Mauro said that to top it all it is always organised in a magnificent setting making it all the more special. “It is a way to get us out of our daily routines and habits which is a good thing,” he said.
The event is completely different to Brussels Headquarters but that is what Mauro likes about GELINAZ!. “What is interesting is that they are never the same. This is something that we need to keep. Most of the events are the same. They follow the same pattern and things are done and redone. With GELINAZ! is is always different. Every time there is a new version. This is really avant-garde and even provocative,” he said.
Mauro said that what he takes with him from events like these are new ideas because ultimately he is sharing experiences with some of the best chefs in the world. “We can learn techniques from each other, we can also see how others work and it is great to be able to share and exchange knowledge,” he said. “But it is also about meeting new people and making new friends.
Does he stress out taking part in such events, I ask? He tells me that there is always a level of stress but this effects people differently. “I am a veteran here so there is not much stress but those who are here for the first time feel stressed,” he said.
Mauro learned to cook in his native Argentina though he grew up in Italy. He was always keen to travel and he set out to explore his country, Latin America and the Caribbean as he absorbed the various culinary traditions and tastes along the way.
After training in Argentina, he moved to Burgundy to work with Bernard Loiseau at his restaurant in the Côte d’or. He stayed there for one and a half years. After the tragic death of Bernard Loiseau in February 2003, Mauro decided to move to Paris to work at L’Arpege, the legendary restaurant run by Alain Passard. He stayed there for a year and a half and he considers this time as the one which allowed him to develop his own sense of creativity, attention to detail and imagination.
Mauro also worked with Alain Ducasse and Guy Martin before taking over the Mirazur restaurant in Menton.