Elsa: Paolo Sari's organic restaurant at the Monte Carlo Beach
Organic food and cooking is becoming increasingly accepted and even demanded in our everyday lives. In addition to the many organic-only stores, most every supermarket has a dedicated bio section containing virtually everything from wine, fruit and veggies to meats and cheeses.
However it is quite a bit more difficult (and honestly rather frustrating) to find restaurants that are committed to offering organic dishes, let alone making a 100% commitment to the organic and locally-grown movement.
Being painfully aware of this fact made my discovery of the Elsa restaurant at the Monte Carlo Beach that much more delicious.
Elsa first opened in 1928 in cooperation between the Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) in Monaco and Elsa Maxwell, the famous US columnist, writer and socialite. According to Agnes Marsan, the SBM European press officer, Monte Carlo Beach became the place to meet for the artistic and cultural elite of the time.
For Paolo Sari, using exclusively organic ingredients means whenever possible the daily menu is based on the seasonally fresh produce from his farm located in Roquebrune Cap Martin. Photo: SBM
In the spirit of recapturing the glory of the 1930s, that trendsetting commitment to food and fashion, designer India Mahdavi was brought on board to remodel the Relais & Chateaux establishment and Paolo Sari was enlisted to head up the Elsa team in 2012. Two years later, he was awarded with a Michelin Star, becoming the first and only chef in the world to get a star for organic cuisine, and holds a third level organic certification as well. “I wanted to change the culture of buying,” says Paolo, who was born in Treviso, Italy. “I want to know everything about where the deliveries come from. From the meat and fish to the sage and garlic.”
I had the pleasure of tasting one of Paolo’s famous risotto dishes, which was truly exceptional. His passion results in an exquisite harmony between the taste and healthfulness that the Elsa guests can find in every one of his dishes, including the signature “Bio Sama” (pictured below) – assorted summer vegetables and radish from Paolo’s garden, squeezed “taggiasca” olive, fleur de sel from camargue – that reflects the restaurant’s culinary philosophy: “essentiality, simplicity and perfection”.
Paolo is leading the way for the future of haute cuisine. “Organic is a true way of life for me. It represents excellence in both taste and health. It’s wellbeing that satisfies our palate, our body but also our mind.”