The world’s best restaurant, located in the beautiful French Riviera, was forced to close when the pandemic began. Take a look at how it has successfully reopened, including picnic-style courses eaten in a garden and ceramic bowls full of hand sanitizer.

Mauro Colagreco standing in front of a tree: Mirazur's head chef Mauro Colagreco in the restaurant's garden. Matteo Carassale

© Provided by Business Insider
Mirazur’s head chef Mauro Colagreco in the restaurant’s garden. Matteo Carassale

  • Mirazur is a three Michelin-starred restaurant located in the town of Menton, France, that was ranked as the World’s Best Restaurant in 2019.
  • After the restaurant was forced to close in March for the country’s 55-day lockdown due to the pandemic, head chef Mauro Colagreco spent time in the restaurant’s gardens to develop a new reopening menu, says head sommelier Benoît Huguenin.
  • Chef Colagreco designed a new menu called Universe Mirazur, featuring meals that focus on four different themes (roots, fruits, flowers, and leaves) and is served to align with the lunar cycle.
  • The nine-course menu starts at 320, or USD$375, and rotates every three days at most, as does the biodynamic wine list.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In June 2019 at the age of 24, Benoît Huguenin became the head sommelier at Mirazur, crowned the World’s Best Restaurant of 2019. He was by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco’s side as Mirazur received the title in a glitzy ceremony in Singapore.

It topped off an incredible year for the restaurant located footsteps from the Italian border in Menton on the French Riviera: Five months earlier it had been awarded its third Michelin star. With it, Colagreco became the first non-French chef in France to receive such an honor.

a man standing next to a building: Mirazur chef Mauro Colagreco (left) and head sommelier Benoît Huguenin (right). Mauro Colagreco/Matteo Carassale/Business Insider

© Mauro Colagreco/Matteo Carassale/Business Insider
Mirazur chef Mauro Colagreco (left) and head sommelier Benoît Huguenin (right). Mauro Colagreco/Matteo Carassale/Business Insider

Fast forward to spring 2020 and the whirlwind four-day trip from the Côte d’Azur to Singapore and back again last summer seemed more like a lifetime ago.

With Mirazur shuttered to the public during France’s 55-day COVID-19 lockdown, Huguenin’s sole professional responsibility was in its kitchen, one of a team of six who had volunteered to prepare meals for local hospital workers three times a week. 

Chef Colagreco spent much of the confinement tending to his gardens that supply produce to the restaurant.

The time allowed the celebrated chef to slow down, reflect, and reconnect with nature, according to Huguenin. In late April, as the country prepared for the easing of lockdown measures, Colagreco gathered his team to discuss plans for reopening the restaurant. He also shared his observations of the last two months. 

“The chef explained that, depending on the moon’s cycle, some days the roots are different, as are the flowers, the leaves, and the fruits,” Huguenin told Business Insider. “We spoke about this for three or so hours. He joked that maybe we should create a special menu around this.”

a group of stuffed animals hanging from a tree: Mirazur's Chef Mauro Colagreco in the restaurant garden. Matteo Carassale

© Matteo Carassale
Mirazur’s Chef Mauro Colagreco in the restaurant garden. Matteo Carassale

Two days later, Colagreco made it official: Mirazur would be opening with a new menu divided into four themes: roots, fruits, flowers, and leaves. Each day’s theme would align with the lunar cycle. The intention was to bring the biodynamic principles practiced in the restaurant’s gardens into the kitchen, allowing guests to experience what nature intended, when