Colagreco at the "Kulm Hotel": Beetroot, Caviar & Turbot - a report by Urs Heller (December 2020)
Mauro Colagreco. And Paloma Boitier.
The Argentinian Mauro Colagreco runs the number one place to eat according to "The World's 50 Best Restaurants" list. He is chef patron of Mirazur on the Côte d’Azur (Menton) in summer and, now, also has a winter restaurant in St. Moritz. General Manager Heinz Hunkeler hit the jackpot when he hired Mauro for the restaurant "The k", as the successor to Michelin-starred chef Tim Raue, who decided not to travel during the pandemic. Mauro arrived at the Swiss Deluxe Hotel fully loaded, accompanied by his charming and highly-talented sous chef, Paloma Boitier, along with all his world-famous creations. The focus of the menu: beetroots. What a choice!
«Luxury beta vulgaris».
Mauro’s intention is to "redefine luxury". So, he relies on his beloved «Betteraves» (beets). He harvests them after one season, then stores them in his cellar over winter before re-planting them in the spring. The result? Mauro's beets are huge, up to four kilos in weight, and full of flavour. In one dish, the beetroots are thinly sliced and artfully draped before a terrific caviar sauce is poured over them; he calls it Oscietra Impérial. “Luxus beta vulgaris”, the chef philosophizes and emphasizes how these beetroots are more important to him than the black gold (caviar). And he’s right: you can buy caviar, but not such super beets.
Potato millefeuille with 55 layers.
Colagreco is not always at The K, but his Argentinian compatriot Paloma Boitier, who is only 26 years old, is. Mauro can rely on his good-humored sous chef: she works precisely and extremely quickly, with the six-course tasting menu being served in just under two hours! The tapas at the start leave diners in no doubt: this is world-class cooking. A mini potato millefeuille made of 55 layers (we have to admit, we didn't count ...) comes with spruce mayo. A butternut squash tartelette. A Grana Padano cracker with sour cream and garlic blossom. Dehydrated black salsify wrapped in Colonnata bacon, pepped up with black truffle. Small works of art that are great to look at. And even better to taste.
Crab, apple, foie gras raviolini.
The main menu starts with Tourteau. The sizeable brigade skillfully removes the crab meat from its shell and wraps it in slices of Granny Smith apple. A refined, refreshing jus made from apple and ginger is poured over the «cannelloni». The next item on the menu is called “Consommé de sanglier”. This is a gross understatement. Of course, the bouillon made from vegetables and wild boar is powerful and exceedingly good, but the raviolini are even more exciting: with a foie gras filling, they simply melt in your mouth! And yet Mauro and Paloma still have another trick up their sleeves, as Ponzu and lemon gel enhance the taste further.
"Poisson blanc" & Tuna sandwich.
Before the next course, a quick look into the pitch-black baking dish. A Bresse poularde on hay is presented before it is hermetically sealed and finished. First, it’s time for some “Poisson blanc - prise du jour”. The catch of the day is first-class turbot. It comes juicy and barely fried, with lashings of lemon and «sudachi» from Japan shaping the taste. A "special" round of applause goes to the tuna, cut from the belly, wrapped in crisp tapioca with Ponzu, lemon gel, sea asparagus and sea herbs. Côte d’Azur on a plate in St. Moritz.
The Ferrari of Chickens.
In the meantime, the «Volaille Albufera» is ready to serve. "The Ferrari of poultry," says the maître enthusiastically. We get the juicy breast, cheekily sliced vertically, and the drumstick fried in duck fat, under a layer of potato foam and thinly-sliced "Champignons de Paris", served with the jus of the Bresse poularde itself. «Albufera» - a once-in-a-lifetime experience – is a small homage from the current world number one to the legacy of the great Auguste Escoffier. The patisserie prepares the grand finale: “Naranjo en flor”, orange and saffron.
The stopwatch is always ticking!
A short visit to the kitchen reveals stopwatches ticking everywhere. “No more than 15 minutes should pass between two courses. Nobody wants to sit at the table for hours these days,” the cooks explain to us. A record is kept of every guest: "It is unthinkable that we should serve the same dish twice." There are alternatives in the «à la carte» range: Crustacean ceviche with leche de tigre and hibiscus, rascasse with black truffle, “Lièvre à la royal”. Eight (!) wines are served with the six courses, including two from Switzerland: Martin Donatsch from Malans with his Completer 2019 and Matthias and Sina Gubler-Möhr from Maienfeld with their Pilgrim 2016 made it into the “Menu Colagreco”. The chef highly values Swiss quality work: for the main course, Biel “Sknife” knives made of surgical steel are used, subtly decorated with an “M” for Mauro.
- Find the orginal article here (German): www.gaultmillau.ch/starchefs/colagreco-im-kulm-randen-kaviar-turbot
- Further interesting facts regarding the Kulm's culinary offer (German): www.gaultmillau.ch/starchefs/kulm-colagreco-panzanella-pizza-peru