The culinary world knows him as the chef behind the famous three-Michelin-starred restaurant Mirazur in France that was voted No. 1 in last year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants. And Singapore will soon get to try Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco’s hamburger chain Carne when it opens an outlet here in February.
The outlet, which is the first outside Argentina and is being marketed as a hamburger bar, will be in Amoy Street and offer local beers from artisanal breweries here.
Carne was launched in 2016 by Chef Colagreco in his hometown of La Plata, Buenos Aires. Its food is touted to feature premium and sustainable ingredients.
These include 100 per cent grass-fed beef from producers who use regenerative grazing techniques of the soil so that the fields can be sustainable over time.
The eggs are cage-free, the vegetables are organic and the bacon comes from pork without growth hormones. Packaged ingredients are said to have no artificial preservatives, chemicals or colouring.
Last year, Carne became the first hamburger chain to be certified by B Lab, a global nonprofit organisation, for its “mission to make a simple and accessible product, with quality raw materials, prepared with haute cuisine standards and respecting the pillars of sustainable gastronomy”.
There are now three Carne stores and two franchises in Buenos Aires. On the menu are burgers with sides, salads and desserts. There are also breakfast and snack items like toasted ham and cheese.
The Singapore outlet will be opened together with the ilLido Group by chef-restaurateur Beppe de Vito. The group owns Italian restaurants such as Art, Amo and the one-Michelin-starred Braci.
Carne’s burgers in Singapore will cost between $18 and $24, and its combo sets – which include fries, salads and drinks – will cost between $26 and $34.
Colagreco told The Straits Times in an e-mail interview that he picked Singapore for the site of Carne’s first overseas outlet because the country is special to him.
He says: “It was there I received No. 1 for Mirazur from World’s 50 Best Restaurants last year.
“Carne’s philosophy is to offer the highest quality products from local producers committed to the sustainable production of food. So we needed someone who would believe and defend those values in a city that would allow us to successfully present our project in Asia.”
He says he contacted de Vito, a friend, to open Carne in Singapore because they share the same values and de Vito is respected locally.
While de Vito will run the operations here, Colagreco remains in charge of the menu development, and will approve the products and suppliers.
He says he is interested in adding local flavours to the menu.
An ilLido spokesman says the outlet here will follow the same philosophy of supporting sustainable farming.
While the grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotics-free beef will be flown in from Argentina, organic vegetables will be sourced from the region, including lettuce from Singapore farm Sustenir Agriculture and heirloom tomatoes from Malaysian farm Zenxin.
Carne will also work with local artisan bakers for the buns and local breweries for the beer.
This is not Colagreco’s first foray into Asia. He opened Cote, an upmarket Riviera-inspired restaurant, at the Capella Bangkok hotel on Oct 1.
But he sees Singapore as a base from which Carne can expand to other parts of Asia. He says: “Singapore is a platform par excellence for new concepts and the avant-garde in gastronomy.
“From street food to gastronomic restaurants, my culinary experiences every time I visited the city have been extraordinary.”
De Vito says they aim to open at least two more physical outlets here and a handful of cloud kitchens in the heartland.
He adds: “As travel returns, the plan is to open in key cities and resort islands in South-east Asia.”
These include Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; Ho Chi Minh City and Danang in Vietnam; Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui in Thailand; and Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia.
Text: Wong Ah Yoke/The Straits Times