Chef Paolo Sari was the first chef awarded a Michelin Star for his 100% organic restaurant Elsa, but his vision goes much further: He wants to turn the principality of Monaco into the first all-organic country in the world.
Originally from Italy, Chef Sari found his culinary home at the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel. This seaside retreat is a dream vacation in all sense of the phrase, from its sweeping Mediterranean views to its Olympic-size pool to the laid back design. And then you taste the food.
Elsa is located on the hotel’s front patio, meaning all too he eatery’s multi-course experiences take place by the sea. All of ingredients for the restaurant come from farms located within sixty miles of the restaurant. Sari even opened his own farm in Monaco where chefs from his restaurants can take part in the growth of the vegetables that they will later use in the kitchen.
Sari has traveled the world cooking, but he was most influenced by the youth and energy of the Koreans he met living on Jeju Island. He learned about a simpler way of living alongside the monks, and promised to instill that ethos into his next project.
Elsa’s signature dish is in honor of his time on Jeju. Bio Sama is a combination of carrots, zucchini, green onions, herbs and olive oil presented beautifully on an all-white plate. Sama is a Japanese word that means to give respect, and, in this case, to give respect to the food grown naturally by the land. Appetizers include raw red shrimp from Sanremo and bruschetta with anchovy from the Golf of Sant Roman. There are pasta dishes, too, such as tagliolini pasta with stewed scorpion fish, and tortelli with courgettes trumpettes and mint. There are fillets of sole, wild sea bass, and roasted loin of lamb—but perhaps most special is the local red mullets roasted as per the Riviera tradition. These local red mullets are caught daily by the Eric Rinaldi, the last fisherman of Monaco.
Monaco was once a fishing port, but today luxury yachts outnumber Rinaldi’s sole fishing boat, a physical sign of the changing industry in Monaco. At one point, Rinaldi was almost out of business, as none of the restaurants wanted the smaller fish that come from their seas. (Most of the prominent chefs at Monaco’s award-winning restaurants prefer to take salmon and flounder shipped from other regions.) Chef Sari heard of Rinaldi and decided to become the sole chef serving the local catch.
And while it may be unlikely that Monaco, as a country, will one day serve only organic food, there is a growing awareness of where food comes from. It’s led to the development of Terre de Monaco, a farming project that is turning unused space into gardens. There is, for example, a large garden at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel which Chef Marcel Ravin walks through daily for the dishes he creates for Michelin-starred restaurant Blue Bay. There is also the Thermes-Marins ,where visitors can pair beauty and spa treatments like seaweed body wraps and cryotherapy with a special menu designed to compliment the physical treatments.
Monaco is often viewed a luxury destination for the ultra-wealthy, but luxury today does not mean the richest cuisine or hottest party. Luxury today is feeling good from the inside out, and enjoying that positive effect on every area of your life.
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