The idea for the documentary “Réinventer le Mirazur”, which follows Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco and the profound transformation that he and his three-Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur are undergoing, began in distant Japan where French filmmakers Franck Ribière and Vérane Frediani met him while he was participating in the Cook Japan Event organized by restaurateur Yuji Shimoyama.
Colagreco was one of 32 chefs invited from all over the world by Shimoyama to show their culinary know-how in Japan, under one condition, to use only Japanese products. The idea was to make a short film, but it expanded into a feature film format when Colagreco invited them to its restaurant in France to continue shooting it. Shimoyama, who appears in the documentary, is also one of the producers. “It was a one-off event, it was very difficult to organize,” he says.
Ribière and Frediani started filming Colagreco at Mirazur then the pandemic struck and as in life, the documentary took on a new, unexpected and, in many ways, fortuitous direction as the filmmakers witnessed Colagreco’s existential crisis. and his decision to completely reinvent his restaurant.
“At one point, I thought he was going to stop completely,” says Ribière, who said he toured for about a year and accumulated around 160 hours of daily work.
Like the rest of many establishments in France, Mirazur was forced to close for months but like a butterfly from a cocoon, came out more beautiful despite the countless challenges it faced.
Spending almost all his days in his vast vegetable and flower garden during the forced break, Colagreco has decided on something revolutionary, to introduce menus linked to the cycles of the moon. As he sourced all the fresh produce from the restaurant in his backyard, where planting and harvesting was timed according to the cycles of the moon, the menus would undergo a drastic change. Colagreco and his team wrote around 32 new dishes in three weeks before the reopening. It tossed out all of the iconic dishes that made Mirazur world famous and was selected as number one in Reed Media’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 list. Following the lunar calendar meant changing the menu four times a week.
Talk to Variety during a dinner at the Basque Culinary Center hosted in his honor after the docu’s world premiere in San Sebastian, Colagreco laughed when asked if he likes complicating things. “Yes indeed we are now four different restaurants in one,” he said, adding: “But in terms of experience and innovation, there is nothing better; it’s more poetic, it’s a return to nature.
Spending hours in his garden during the lockdown caused him to reassess his priorities and devote more time to his family, to nature, Colagreco said during the 1 a.m. press conference held after dinner at several dishes. “We are out of balance as a society and as individuals the challenge is to find that balance,” he said.
Speaking about the filming experience, Ribière said: “You witness all this chaos in the kitchen and all of it, there is a moment of clarity and then this beautiful dish emerges.” “They work from 6 am to 2 am every day, and at the end of each day the kitchen is immaculate,” he exclaimed.
“We were concerned that the COVID-19 angle might dominate the documentary, but it’s more about Colagreco’s life, his journey as a human being,” said Los Angeles-based producer Thomas Augsberger, who recently launched ERM Docs, a new documentary division in its Eden. Rock Media label whose first title is “Réinventer le Mirazur”.
Augsberger approached two sources willing to fund a film production at the start of a global pandemic: Swiss investor Santis Media Distribution and US company Front Berner, owned and operated by production partners Schuyler Ransohoff and Wes Fleuchaus. “We came on board thinking it would be a short film, so it was a happy turn of events when it became a feature documentary,” said Fleuchhaus.
Despite the travel demands that arise from owning many restaurants around the world. Colagreco is sure of one thing. “I refuse to be just a manager, I never want to stop cooking,” he said.
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