Food for thought: COYA Restaurant expands to Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix home Monte Carlo
Chef Sanjay Dwivedi exclusively shares his culinary secrets and why Lewis Hamilton would be his dream dinner guest
The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most high-profile international events in the Formula 1 calendar, renowned for attracting the biggest stars within both the celebrity and racing circuits. And this year’s event, held this weekend in the picturesque setting of Monte Carlo with stars such as Tom Brady, Hugh Grant and Tommy Hilfiger in attendance, certainly didn’t disappoint. Christian Horner’s Red Bull team triumphed with Daniel Ricciardo racing into first place, followed closely by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in second and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in third. But it wasn't just the realm of motor sport in the spotlight, as elsewhere in Monaco, an exciting culinary launch, COYA Monte-Carlo, was also taking place.
Enter Chef Sanjay Dwivedi, head chef at multi award-winning Latin American restaurant group COYA, opened COYA Monte-Carlo this weekend in collaboration with Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer. Coinciding with the famous sporting event, the site opened its doors for the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, with the full a la carte menu available from today. It marks the chef’s first European COYA branch outside of London.
“COYA represents vibrancy, flavour and energy, which is exactly what Monaco is looking for. We saw a gap in the market and truly believe COYA Monte-Carlo will revive the city’s culinary scene” the chef exclusively told Tempus.
In celebration of the launch, Tempus spoke exclusively to Dwivedi – who is also an avid fan of the Monaco Grand Prix – to get the scoop on his newest culinary venture, find out just why Monaco is so close to his heart, and why he dreams of Hamilton pulling up a chair at his dinner table.
Tell me about your new opening of COYA in Monaco.
A key feature of the site is the sweeping terrace which has amazing views of the ocean and French Riviera. We have a thirty-seater Private Dining Room – the largest across all COYA’s worldwide – and an open preparation kitchen that allows guests to watch all the action. Our Peruvian menu will include the classically COYA dishes that have become known around the world, as well as some new dishes exclusive to Monaco.
What made you select Monaco as your first foray into Europe?
I believe visitors and residents of Monaco are looking for exclusivity and something extra special – which is exactly what COYA will provide. The team and I could not be more excited to expand in Europe, and our location is second to none.
Did you purposely plan to open it during the Monaco Grand Prix? Are you a fan of Formula One?
I am a huge fan of Formula One and to open the weekend of the Grand Prix was incredible. From a business perspective, it made sense to open for the Grand Prix, the biggest event in the Monaco calendar, ahead of what is set to be a very exciting summer.
What made you decide to specialise in Peruvian cuisine in COYA?
Peru’s diverse conditions mean the country is able to grow produce that may not be as accessible in other countries, giving them a strong advantage when it comes to cooking. The chefs of Peru are also very proud and passionate about the dishes they create, which is something I hugely admire. I have studied the gastronomic heritage of Peruvian cuisine and the Japanese techniques brought to the country, such as sushi inspiring Peru’s famous ceviche. I am mindful to stay true to the roots of Peruvian cuisine at COYA while also incorporating modern European cooking techniques.
Can you give us some scoop into stand out dishes on the menu?
One of the signature dishes at COYA Monte-Carlo will be Dorada a la Parilla, a chargrilled whole gilt head sea bream with peas, asparagus and broad beans. It is a spectacular dish in both presentation and the delicate combination of flavours, fitting perfectly with the location of COYA Monte-Carlo.
Who would be your dream dinner guest?
My grandmother, who passed away a long time ago, was instrumental in getting me interested in cooking when I was a child, so to sit and have dinner with her would be an amazing way of saying thanks for her teachings and love. If I had to choose someone who could be physically present, it would be Lewis Hamilton – his transition has been amazing. He is full of positivity and is on fire in his career. To have dinner with a local hero from the UK would be fantastic, he must have so many stories to share.
You're incorporating an open kitchen into this restaurant; how can this enhance a diner’s experience?
We have an open kitchen in all COYA restaurants to allow our guests to become more engaged. It’s about putting on a show that captures our guests from the moment they walk through the door. We like to create the effect of theatre, which adds to the whole COYA experience.
Your Mayfair restaurant is famed for its bespoke decor, what sort of design can we expect in your new Monaco restaurant?
The restaurant is designed by Sagrada who are responsible for all COYA venues worldwide, and a key feature is the panoramic terrace. From the grand entrance of the restaurant, our visitors will be transported into Latin America, filled with Peruvian trinkets and staple hand-crafted furniture – all truly bespoke.
What other restaurants do you love/admire?
I am a huge fan of [fellow chef] Heston Blumenthal's restaurant The Fat Duck and have known him for over 15 years – I worked for him before he received his first Michelin star. Watching his progression has been a pleasure and The Fat Duck is always where I go if I want to celebrate something special. Outside of the UK my favourite restaurants are Maido by Mitsuharu in Peru and 108 Restaurant in Copenhagen.