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At the Chef's Table- Massimo Bottura Part 3

At the Chef's Table- Massimo Bottura Part 3

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We discuss the chef's influences as well as his opening of Osteria Francescana

Jessica Chou

At the Chef's Table with Massimo Bottura

In our series "At the Chef's Table," we take a look at the careers of some of the greatest chefs in the business. In this month’s installment we are profiling Massimo Bottura, the Modena, Italy-based chef whose restaurant Osteria Francescana has gained international acclaim — including the title of fifth best restaurant in the world on San Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants list. On top of that, The Daily Meal named Bottura its International Chef of the Year for 2012. We sat down with the chef in New York at Eataly's Birreria.

In part three of our series we discuss his mentors and opening Osteria Francescana. He explains why it was so important for him to study under a variety of mentors: “If you want to do contemporary cuisine you have to learn everything. And then you have to forget everything and make something new. But if you want to start, you have to start from the basics.” He also discussed why it took time for Osteria Francescana to get to the place it is today. He notes, “I was doing those kind of [dishes], the ice cream bar of foie gras... But people they weren’t ready. They were too provocative.” It took a friend reminding him that he needed to show mastery over the basics first, in order to convince diners that his food was truly excellent.

For more from Bottura, including a life-changing incident with Alain Ducasse, watch part three above! You can also catch parts one and two if you missed them, and look out for part four coming next Monday!

This Is What It Actually Costs to Eat at the ‘Chef’s Table’ Restaurants

My name is Madison and I am addicted to Chef’s Table. I’ve never truly been one to Netflix binge-watch, but Chef’s Table changed everything. I’m not sure if it was the video techniques, tantalizing food styling or the fact that each episode lets you take a deeper dive into one of the world’s greatest chefs, this show is addictive. It’s basically MTV Cribs, but for restaurants, like what?

While I was able to fantasize about maybe getting to eat at one of these restaurants, once I looked up the actual costs, I knew I could keep dreaming. This is the real-life costs of being “elite” enough to eat at one of these restaurants:

Season 1

1. Osteria Francescana, Massimo Bottura

Photo courtesy of @robbie_postma on Instagram

The first episode brings you to Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. It was once named #1 on the list of 50 Best Restaurants in the world. OK, good for you. This guy Massimo is a boss. He is known for turning classic Italian cuisine on its head. Most Italians rejected his methods at first, but soon, they were able to appreciate his dedication to highlighting products of the region.

The cost to enjoy his meal is a whopping $220. If you’re looking to drink, add that extra $130. I’m not sure what’s more expensive, eating here or getting a flight to Modena, Italy?

Chef’s Tasting: $220

Wine Pairings: $130

2. Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns, Dan Barber

Photo courtesy of @infatuation_nyc on Instagram

Blue Hill at the Stone Barns is actually on a farm. This is where they get a majority of their ingredients from. Barber is basically the creator of farm-to-table. Diners know exactly where their food is coming from and know how it was prepared. There also is a Blue Hill in NYC. But if you want the full experience, I recommend going to the farm. The expensive cost of $238 includes tours of the grounds and a dining experience that you won’t forget.

Chef’s Tasting: $238

Wine Pairings: $158

3. El Restaurante Patagonia Sur, Francis Mallmann

Photo courtesy of @francismallmann on Instagram

This restaurant is the real deal, and pretty exclusive. To book a table, you need to pay a deposit upfront, later taken off of the cost of the meal. This is commitment. Almost as big of a commitment as starting a new Netflix series with 10 seasons. That big. $180 may not be as expensive as some of the other spots, but this is steep for a restaurant in South America.

Chef’s Tasting: $180

4. N/Naka, Niki Nakayama

Photo courtesy of @nnakarestaurant on Instagram

Niki Nakayama is the first female chef to appear on Season 1 and it makes me want to yell “girl power!” Not really, but it’s uncommon to see successful female chefs. Niki is sure to close the sliding doors on her kitchen to make sure her guest’s opinions aren’t hindered by her gender. She takes a modern approach on kaiseki. A traditional Japanese cuisine that focuses on small intricate dishes. The chef also likes to highlight local, fresh ingredients in her upscale Los Angeles restaurant.

Chef’s Tasting: $185

Chef’s Tasting (Vegetarian): $160

Wine/Sake Pairings: $95/$105

5. Attica, Ben Shewry

Photo courtesy of @mab397 on Instagram

Attica took awhile to be recognized for its exquisite food. This Australian restaurant isn’t the fanciest or nicest of the Chef’s Table series, in fact, it may be the most casual. However, the chef highlights some of Australia’s native ingredients in an innovative way. Dishes like Vegemite Pie, Salted Red Kangaroo and Emu Egg, do just that. You can see the attention to detail in this photo — a hand painted mussel shell. That’s dedication.

Chef’s Tasting: $250

Wine Pairings: $150

6. Fäviken, Magnus Nilsson

Photo courtesy of @magnusfaviken on Instagram

If you want to eat at this restaurant you’re going to have to fly to Iceland, drive to this hotel in the middle of nowhere and book a room. Then you’ll be able to dine at this 12 seater restaurant. Since it gets really cold in the winter months, Magnus stocks up. He uses a variety of pickling and storing techniques to make the most of his harvesting seasons. Guests can expect changing menus and exceptional service. This cost of $295 includes a stay in a homey-hotel for two. So you better find yourself a boo or a best friend to get cozy with.

Chef’s Tasting: $295

Season 2

7. Alinea, Grant Achatz

Photo courtesy of @thealineagroup on Instagram

Alinea is an experience. It’s only fitting to open season two of Chef’s Table with something I would call a “life-changing” experience. From edible balloons to food-scented pillows, this place looks monumental. Luckily, this spot offers a variety of tasting experiences that also range in price.

The more expensive dining experiences can be up to 18 courses, while the Saloon is around 12 courses. Each course is intertwined with each other and tells a story. The centerpiece hanging above your head might just become part of your dinner. An 18-course meal… a girl can dream.

Chef’s Tasting (6 Guests): $385

Chef’s Tasting (2-4 Guests): $295-$345

Chef’s Tasting at The Salon (1-6 Guests): $175-$225

8. D. O. M., Alex Atala

Photo courtesy of @matteocarassale on Instagram

Alex Atala is a badass. His restaurant was rated the 4th best restaurant in the world in 2012, according to San Pellegrino. Currently, D.O.M. is 9th in the world. Atala is known for incorporating French and Italian culinary techniques he learned working around the world, into Brazilian cuisine. He makes familiar dishes seem upscale and modern. Fair warning… he likes ants. You might get a dish and not knowing there are ants in it, but embrace it, because he knows what he’s doing.

Chef’s Tasting: $250

9. Atelier Crenn, Dominique Crenn

Photo courtesy of @michelinstarfoodfromtheworld on Instagram

After watching Dominique Crenn’s episode, you just want to be her friend and eat in her restaurant. She seems welcoming, empowering and an impressive chef. Dominique was the first women to receive two Michelin Stars – that’s a big deal. Her French background can be seen throughout her tasting. Which, by the way, has a menu that is all perfectly laid out in an eloquently written poem. The cost of this poetic meal may be almost $300, but that includes tax and tip.

Chef’s Tasting: $298 (plus tax and tip)

Wine Pairings: $150

10. Pujol, Enrique Olvera

Photo courtesy of @pujolrestaurant on Instagram

Enrique Olvera is another chef featured on the series that highlights the food of his culture. He notes that no one before him had really done upscale-Mexican food. He is able to make street food like tacos and Mexican style corn seem luxurious. Example A: the above photo. Enrique is doing justice to his region and at a price that isn’t horrible – $95. If you eat here, you better prepare yourself for mezcal and tequila.

Chef’s Tasting: $95

11. Hiša Franko, Ana Ros

Photo courtesy of @hisafranko on Instagram

Let me start by saying Ana Ros is a self-taught chef. The fact that she was featured on Chef’s Table and had no serious professional training is astonishing. She is currently running an extremely successful restaurant in the middle-of-nowhere-Slovenia. This restaurant is her whole life. It is attached to her house where her kids and husband, Hiša Franko sommelier, live. (Here are some tips to taste wine like a sommelier, if you’re curious.)

She is able to combine unlikely ingredients, such as squids filled with lamb sweetbreads, fava beans, black garlic and cava cheese. OK, like what? If Ana says it works, I guess it works. Ana shows the utmost respect for her food and for her customers with her relatively priced menu.

Chef’s Tasting (5 Courses): $78

Chef’s Tasting (9 Courses): $100

12. Gaggan, Gaggan Anand

Photo courtesy of @anneoliviab on Instagram

Last but not least, we have Gaggan. Gaggan Anand grew up in poverty and was even homeless at times (learned that from Chef’s Table). He was able to rise to the top and become 2016’s best restaurant in Asia. He is known for his “progressive Indian food” at his Bangkok location. Until recently, he was still serving curries, which is customary of Indian cuisine, but he decided to remove them from the menu to give his diners the unexpected.

Chef’s Tasting: $115

Each of these restaurants are worthy of their recognition. While many of the prices do seem steep, I think everyone (especially food lovers) should get the opportunity to experience an exceptional dining experience like these. I know what I’m asking for for graduation, sorry parents.


Massimo Bottura was born and raised in Modena in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. He developed an interest in cooking from a young age after watching his mother, grandmother and aunt in the kitchen preparing family meals. [4]

Bottura was an apprentice to chef Georges Coigny. [5]

Bottura also worked with Alain Ducasse at Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo in 1994. [6] Ducasse invited him to stage in his kitchen following a surprise visit to Trattoria del Campazzo. [7] Massimo Bottura won a 2020 Webby Special Achievement Award. [8]

On 19 March 1995 Bottura opened Osteria Francescana in the medieval city centre of Modena. [9] His concept was to juxtapose culinary tradition and innovation with contemporary art and design.

Bottura then spent a summer at elBulli with Ferran Adrià, which encouraged him to continue pushing boundaries and re-writing rules with his cuisine. [10]

In 2012, shortly after Osteria Francescana was awarded its third Michelin star, the restaurant closed for the summer for a period of refurbishment and opened with an updated insight into Bottura's two biggest passions - contemporary art and avant garde cuisine. [11]

Bottura and Osteria Francescana were featured in episode one of the first season of Netflix's Chef's Table series in 2015, and the second episode of the second season of Master of None. Bottura had heard that the series had shot at nearby Hosteria Giusti, and directly confronted Eric Wareheim and Aziz Ansari one evening, asking why they had not approached him. He offered them a full meal, which was subsequently shot for the episode and featured the actors' real reactions to his food. [12]

Franceschetta 58, an informal dining brasserie and bar serving small plates was Bottura’s second restaurant project and opened in 2011 in Modena. This was a collaboration with Bibendum director Marta Pulini. [13]

He is on the board of directors of the Basque Culinary Centre, a project directed by Ferran Adrià. [6]

After the 2012 Northern Italy earthquakes in the region, which caused significant damage to millions of pounds' worth of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Bottura worked with local producers to raise awareness of the situation. [14] As part of these efforts, he developed a recipe for a risotto variation of the Roman pasta dish cacio e pepe (traditionally made with a sheep's cheese like Pecorino Romano) using broken wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano. [15] He also took part in the Crave International Food festival in Sydney in October [16] and played the leading role in a festival in Taiwan, La Festa di Chef Massimo Bottura. [17]

2013 Bottura took on the role of Ambassador for Food in the Year of Italian Culture in the United States. [18] He was also a guest of honour at the Cancún-Riviera Maya Wine and Food Festival in March. [19]

In May 2014, he opened his first restaurant outside of Italy, "Ristorante Italia di Massimo Bottura" in Istanbul, Turkey. [ citation needed ]

In January 2018, he opened Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura at the Gucci Garden inside the Palazzo della Mercanzia, which formerly housed the Gucci Museo, in Florence, Italy. [20]

In February 2019, Massimo worked in partnership with W Hotels to open Torno Subito at W Dubai - The Palm on Palm Jumeirah. The restaurant design was created by the award-winning interior specialists Bishop Design by Paul Bishop and is a mesmerizing reflection of Massimo's affection with bygone eras. Inspired by Rimini's coastal playground in the 1960s, the quirky and bold interiors takes guests on a sensory journey through Massimo's imagination. In 2019, Torno Subito won Interior Design of the Year: Food and Beverage at the Commercial Interior Design Awards in Dubai.

In April 2019, Massimo was listed among Time magazine’s most influential people in the world while in May 2019 he opened a new hospitality concept, Casa Maria Luigia, a 12 room guesthouse with a new dining experience. [21]

In 2019 Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura was awarded one Michelin star, while in February 2020 the concept expanded into the United States, where Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura Beverly Hills opened in Los Angeles.

In June 2020, he and other chefs, as well as architects, Nobel laureates in Economics and leaders of international organizations, signed the appeal in favour of the purple economy (“Towards a cultural renaissance of the economy”), published in the Corriere della Sera, [22] El País [23] and Le Monde. [24]

Food for Soul Edit

In 2016, Chef Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara Gilmore founded Food for Soul, a non-profit organization conceived to build culture as a way of empowering communities and advocating for healthy and equitable food systems. [25] The very first seed was planted during Expo 2015 in Milan, when Bottura, in partnership with the Italian NGO Caritas Ambrosiana, decided to approach the dual issue of food wastage and social vulnerability in a new way. Bottura’s concept was to reinterpret the church refectory, where monks used to gather around long communal tables to have their meals, and turn it into a welcoming dining hall where the city's most vulnerable population could find a moment of restoration. Every day, guests were served a three-course menu prepared using the unutilized produce from the Expo’s pavilions that would have otherwise been thrown away. The first Refettorio was born. [26]

Since then, Food for Soul has developed several projects around the world in partnerships with local partners. By building community spaces where people are invited to connect around a meal, Food for Soul wants to demonstrate the value and the potential of people, places and food and encourage the community served to advocate for social change. [27]

To date, Food for Soul has successfully launched seven Refettorios in Milan, Rio de Janeiro, London, Paris, Modena, Bologna and Naples. [28]

Massimo Bottura: art and revolution

While his restaurant, Osteria Francescana, is ranked as number two in the world and holds three Michelin stars, Massimo Bottura is often thought of as a subversive figure despite these impressive credentials. A lover of contemporary art, Bottura himself also seeks to constantly challenge and question our notions of tradition, arguing that it lives on in evolution rather than preservation.

Ollie is the founder of Great British Chefs.

Ollie is the founder of Great British Chefs.

The concept of the artist as an outsider is something we have grown used to. We accept the idea that artists challenge convention and rip up the rules of previous generations. Over time, images of rebellion become decoration for mugs, plates and things to buy as souvenirs - the very meaning of the works are often forgotten. Artists like Francis Bacon, Ai Weiwei and Joseph Beuys sell for small fortunes and are often mistaken for brands or badges of taste rather than challengers of authority. For me, it is a given that the creation of great art should provoke and challenge but we don’t expect the food we eat to engage in similar tussles with authority and tradition.

Talking to Massimo Bottura, a chef whose restaurant recently ranked as number 2 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is like talking to a contemporary artist. He holds strong views on the state of his native country, Italy. He is angered by the methods of the past but values the potential of dialogue with previous generations. He sees change as vital to society’s evolution. He sees tradition as something to be pushed against rather than hero worshipped. He sees the possibility of innovation and new approaches. He imagines - through his dishes - new stories that are both highly personal but provocative in a broader sense.

Bottura was in London recently to bring Osteria Francescana, his legendary restaurant in Modena, to Sotheby’s during their July contemporary art sale. His food was served alongside the works of Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Lucio Fontana and his dishes were in part inspired by these great artists. He has had a long relationship with art and has not only acquired work by Ai Weiwei but treats his guests to a revolving collection of art from the likes of Joseph Beuys through to Gavin Turk. His restaurant, in its previous incarnation, had a strong relationship with artists and in the early days, local artists traded works for meals and cases of wine.

Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura to open community restaurant for homeless in Sydney

One of the world’s top chefs will open a community restaurant for homeless people in Sydney with the help of food rescue organisation Oz Harvest.

Speaking with Ray Martin at an event in Sydney on Wednesday night, Italian chef Massimo Bottura praised the OzHarvest founder and chief executive, Ronni Kahn, describing her as “an amazing woman . doing a fantastic job” and said they would soon open a refettorio together.

A refettorio is a restaurant where renowned chefs use rescued food to create meals for vulnerable locals. Bottura suggested some of Australia’s top chefs would pitch in to help at the Sydney restaurant, saying: “It’s going to be so easy to build.”

In Australia, more than five million tonnes of food ends up in landfill, costing an estimated $20bn a year. OzHarvest collects over 180 tonnes of food each week from food donors across Australia, including supermarkets, restaurants and catering companies.

On Thursday Kahn confirmed the project would go ahead: “We are definitely going to bring Massimo’s refettorio to Australia. I’m currently looking at locations in Sydney, so if anyone has a space to offer, give me a call.”

She said the pair hoped to open it this year, depending on the location. It would be run by chefs and volunteers, and they also planned to “offer a shared experience for the whole community”.

Kahn said OzHarvest would look after the site, operations, volunteers and supply of rescued food. Once the restaurant opened, they would also communicate with charity agencies that feed people in need.

Kahn and Bottura met in 2016. A year later they hosted a “cooking with a conscience” dinner with nine of Australia’s top chefs.

Kahn described Bottura as “like meeting a kindred spirit that I had known all my life. We share the same passion, values and vision to create a better world, and are both determined to make a difference”.

Bottura opened his first refettorio in Milan in 2015. In 2016, he and wife Lara Gilmore founded Food for Soul, a not-for-profit organisation which aims “to empower communities to fight food waste through social inclusion”. There are currently refettorios (which comes from the Latin word reficere, meaning to remake or restore) in Milan, Rio de Janeiro, London and Paris.

Asked why he does these projects, Bottura said: “It’s something you have inside, you can focus on making money or you can focus on building refettorio.”

Bottura’s three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy was voted the world’s best restaurant in 2018. The restaurant also held the title in 2016. Bottura received worldwide attention after he starred in the first episode of Netflix series Chef’s Table.

Chef Massimo Bottura on Cooking With Kids

When you think of an Italian chef, you might think of a fat guy slinging red sauce and singing opera. Massimo Bottura ain’t that. The former head chef of Osteria Francescana, voted the top restaurant on Earth (currently it’s number two on the World Restaurant Rankings list), is as skinny as a wire, sharp as a knife, and you’re more likely to hear him bopping along to Charlie Parker than Pavoratti. In fact, he loves The Bird so much, he named his son Charlie.

On The Fatherly Podcast, Bottura spoke about how he’s balanced his professional ambitions and personal intensity with the need of his daughter and of Charlie, who was born with a rare genetic disorder that necessitates constant and creative care. Bottura is nothing if not a thinker and he dove into his intellectual approach to both cooking and considering the needs of his children from a distinctly Italian perspective (his daughter butted in to keep him honest).

Thanks for listening to the first season of The Fatherly Podcast, and be sure to tune into Season 2 when it launches in early 2018 on iHeartRadio, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Massimo Bottura on the Art of Dining with Dignity

I am an Italian chef. The most valuable lessons of the Italian kitchen are to make the most of nothing and to never throw anything away. No crumbs or bones ever get thrown in the bin. A ragù is nothing other than a sauce made with scraps of meat, fish or vegetables. In his Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, Pellegrino Artusi collected recipes from all over Italy—North to South, islands included. We often say that, while Garibaldi was unifying Italy on the battlefield, Artusi was doing so in the kitchens. The recurrence of some ingredients is mesmerizing. Just think about bread. There are recipes for breadcrumb soups, loaves, meatballs, flans made with bread, not to mention the pasta-like passatelli. Even my favorite dinner meal, as a kid, was “milk soup.” You might wonder, so where’s the bread in that? Well, it was served with huge chunks of stale bread that I would dunk in a bowl of warm milk with a sip of coffee left from the moka machine added, and lots of sugar. I mean, loads. Delicious. Just like bread, meat can be re-cooked and re-purposed in many ways: meat used to make broth is then re-used in hundreds of other ways: meatloaves, meatballs or as stuffing for fresh pasta. And then there’s vegetables, cheese rinds and bones. What all these ingredients have in common is that they’re often considered leftovers. Bread becomes stale meat has lost some of its succulent juices and flavor. But eventually, they are still used to make something nutritious and tasty.

A chef prepares dessert for dinner service at Gastromotiva. Photos of Gastromotiva by Angelo Dal Bo.

Sylvie Fleurie is a contemporary artist who expresses her critical view of society through common objects made out of uncommon materials. I bought one of these objects—a gold-plated waste bin. When I unpacked the 40cm-high bin, it seemed to glow from within, warm and radiant like the sun.

It is said of some people that they are “beautiful inside.” A browned banana, a bruised fruit, a chunk of stale bread—these ingredients still have huge potential in terms of smells, flavors and texture. The responsibility of the chef—as well as that of all of us cooking at home—is to find the inner beauty of each product and to make the most out of it in each phase of its lifespan. Straight out of the oven, a loaf of bread is ready to be served at the table and eaten as it is, still warm and fragrant, without even waiting for the crust to stop crackling. The day after, it might be sliced and toasted to make bruschetta. A day more and it is perfect to be chopped and seasoned with tomatoes to make panzanella, or to make pappa al pomodoro. On the fourth day, it can be turned into breadcrumbs for passatelli or for exquisite gratins. In this way, leftovers are reintroduced into the food chain—with extra value.

Black and white frescos by local artists Luca Zamoc and Luca Lattuga decorate the walls of the Social Tables Ghirlandina in Modena, Italy.

In the end, the point is to return dignity:
To an overripe tomato that is not in perfect condition but is still perfectly edible.
To an abandoned space in the suburbs.
To a person in vulnerable conditions, who is socially marginalized.

Looking at what is neglected, discarded or ignored is at the core of the mission of Food for Soul, the non-profit organization that my wife Lara and I founded in 2016. We build community kitchens around the world with the help of different people, associations and institutions. First, artists, architects and designers transform disused spaces into beautiful and inspiring hubs, complete with fratino tables—tables for 8 to 12 guests, where no one sits at the head. All equals. Chefs transform surplus ingredients into three-course meals. A team of volunteers serve those dishes directly at the table to people living in socially vulnerable conditions.

Chef Massimo Bottura cooking at Refettorio Gastromotiva in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016.

We started from a very simple—though, now that I look back, I’d say crazy—idea: to apply everything that we had learned in more than 20 years of experience at Osteria Francescana to a brand new model, completely unexplored and unknown to us. We distilled our experience into three tenets: quality of ideas, the power of beauty and the value of hospitality, to a community kitchen. Now we have six projects around the world: the first seed was in Milan, then came Bologna, Rio de Janeiro, Modena, London, and most recently, Paris. On March 15th, we opened Refettorio Paris in a place with great historical value: the crypt of the church of La Madeleine.

In West London, Food for Soul collaborated with designer Ilse Crawford to create a warm dining room for Refettorio Felix at St. Cuthbert’s centre. Photo by Simon Owen/Red Photographic.

Any time that I visit one of these places, I ask myself, “how powerful can a meal be?” I mean, sitting around the same table, immersed in a space of art, design and beauty sharing a meal, a good one creating and stimulating human exchange. All this happens in front of a simple soup—made with ingredients otherwise wasted. Indeed, how powerful a meal can be.

This is why I always say—and I’ll keep repeating until I’m heard—that Food for Soul is not a charity project, but a cultural one. We are not aiming to serve as many meals as possible, and consequently feed as many people as possible. We aim to change the mindset. We want people to look at food, spaces and other people with different eyes—understanding the potential of anything and anyone. We want to make visible the invisible.

In 2016, chef Alex Atala cooked a meal using surplus ingredients donated by the catering companies that supplied the Olympic villages. Photos by Angelo Dal Bo.

When we decided to open the first community kitchen in Milan, Refettorio Ambrosiano, I found myself calling all my chef friends, one by one, asking them to fly over to Italy to cook for 100 people per night. “But please,” I told them, “don’t bring your recipes with you. They’ll be useless.” Nevertheless, some of them brought their recipes anyway. The moment our food truck arrived and our team unloaded boxes of surplus cauliflower, zucchini, basil, strawberries and cheese, they would finally understand my unusual request. I could tell by the look of shock on their faces.

We collected the resulting new recipes, made out of necessity, in a book. In November 2017, we released Bread is Gold. The title came from a recipe that we used to make at Osteria Francescana—a dessert made only with breadcrumbs, milk and sugar, like the beloved milk soup of my childhood memories. If you’re only looking for a book for recipes, you might be quite disappointed. Like Artusi, you’ll find recipes for meatballs, loaves, soups, and ice cream—eventually, we had to deal with tons of stale bread, rivers of milk, and mountains of cheese rinds and overripe fruit. I like to say that Bread is Gold—again, like Artusi’s- is a book of ideas that will help you be resourceful with ingredients, no matter how fancy they are or how nice they look.

At Refettorio Gastromotiva, Brazilian artist Via Muniz’s chocolate painting of the “Last Supper” hangs on the wall.

Food waste is one of the biggest problems of our century. Numbers are numbers. Almost one billion people are undernourished. One-third of the food we produce globally is wasted every year, including nearly four trillion apples. Just imagine how many apple pies we could make! I am an optimist and I believe that we are already making positive change, and pushing people through it with all our strength. Because, guess what: everyone can participate. Everyone can make a difference by simply cooking and sharing the most powerful tool for change: a meal.

One clip showed him making a toasted cheese sandwich

In looking through the clips on Bottura's profile, I came across a recipe for what I knew would be a crowd-pleaser: grilled cheese.

Bottura made it as part of a refrigerator-emptying meal — there are days when he just uses up everything in his fridge that's on the verge of spoiling — and documented the process from start to finish in one of the clips.

The post has since been deleted, but Charlie posted a photo of the dinner table to his Instagram profile and you can see the small plate of two toasted cheese sandwiches on the right.

A post shared by Charlie Bottura Food Lover (@charlie_bottura_2020_) Mar 19, 2020 at 1:18pm PDT

Bottura used leftover "white sandwich bread" that he had in his fridge, some smoked provolone cheese, and slices of parmigiana that come in singles just like American cheese singles here in the states. He also added some prosciutto cotto — which is cooked ham as opposed to the cured raw ham that is prosciutto crudo — and lots of butter.

My Five Favorite Meals: Massimo Bottura

All-star Italian chef Massimo Bottura runs one of the best restaurants in the world. We got him to share with us the meals that have mattered the most.

Bob Guccione Jr.

M assimo Bottura is one of those incredibly rare and exotic humans to have been told that their restaurant is the world’s best, and therefore that they are one of the greatest chefs on the planet. It ranks him with the likes of Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi and Joan Roca i Fontané.

Like those geniuses, Bottura is endlessly innovative, passionate and holistic about food and driven to create new possibilities it seems only he’s able to see.

His famous restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, opened in 1995, and immediately garnered attention for being stunningly good and startlingly fresh. The cuisine blended traditional Italian methods with a panoply of new ideas, and subsequently included culinary techniques and flavors he experienced from his travels. In 2016, it was first named Best Restaurant in the world by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants organization that creates an annual list. Again in 2018, Osteria Francescana took the top spot. (Understandably, there will be no list in 2020.)

Among his other projects, he has collaborated with Gucci to create Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Florence, in the old Gucci Museum. He also opened a restaurant with the famed fashion brand in Beverly Hills. Last year, he partnered with W Hotels and launched Torno Subito in Dubai, and debuted Casa Maria Luigia, his boutique 12-room luxury hotel and restaurant in Modena. You’ll want to eat in when you stay there.

In 2015, at the Universal Expo in Milan, Bottura opened the Refettorio Ambrosiano with the Caritas Ambrosiana organization. It was a place to feed the hungry, with food left over from the Expo. “We oversaw the restoration of an abandoned theatre in the outskirts of Milan and transformed it into a beautiful community space. A solid ground where people could catch their breath and start believing in their future again. We made visible the invisible in Milan,” he explained to me.

“We called chefs from all over the world to join our community kitchen and cook with the food surplus coming from the Expo. Every day, we had to be as creative as we could be, to serve our guests—people living in vulnerable situations from Milan’s neighborhood of Greco. We wanted it to be the best three-course meal they had ever experienced and serve it in a warm and welcoming place.”

After the Expo, it became clear to him “that food could be more: not only a bridge between hunger and waste, but also a bridge for people to create new communities around nourishment.” The following year he founded the non-profit Food for Soul with his wife Lara “to shine light on the invisible potential of people, places and food.” There are now seven Refettorios outside of Italy, including in Rio de Janeiro, London and Paris, and one is planned for Mexico. Ultimately, he wants to tackle the U.S., too.

Currently, during the coronavirus pandemic, Bottura is producing a nightly cooking show on Instagram with his family called Kitchen Quarantine.

“What I have tried to communicate through Kitchen Quarantine, as well as with the work that we are doing with Food for Soul, is that everyone can do something, even now, even from our homes. Use this time to experiment with what you have in the fridge, to get to know the food you eat and spend time sharing it with your loved ones.”

Read on for his five favorite meals.


It was my 10th birthday, September 30, 1972. My family celebrated birthdays at restaurants for as long as I can remember. My older brothers made the reservation for the family meal at a little known place in the countryside of Parma.

The seven of us arrived at what looked like a piazza cafe in the middle of nowhere. The “T” sign indicating that they had a license to sell tabacchi (cigarettes) was hanging outside the door. It did not look like a restaurant but a bar selling coffee and spirits. In the back there was a dining room with wood paneling on the walls, white tablecloths and simple wood tables. But something was definitely different. This was not an ordinary osteria because there were incredible bottles of wine everywhere. The proprietor, Peppino Cantarelli was one of the trailblazing restaurateurs who began importing amazing wines from France back in the 1950s. He was also making his own blend of Cognacs in the back room.

What I remember about the meal was this perfectly cooked Guinea Hen (fara’ona) baked in a ceramic pot with the creamiest most flavorful sauce I had ever eaten. I also remember the discussion at the table was, “is there foie gras in the sauce?” Cantarelli had become an underground foodie stop for gourmets from all over Europe, before the term “foodie” existed. The film troupe of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 (Robert DeNiro, Donald Sutherland, Gérard Depardieu) were eating lunch and dinner there every day. He was primarily known for his wine selection but also for his wife Mirella’s cooking and his attention to local products such as culatello and traditional pasta recipes. Mirella passed away in the ’80s and the restaurant closed shortly thereafter however, it remains in the minds and hearts of many people. A legendary restaurant. What stuck with me, and still is part of me, is that a restaurant is not about the facade or the pomp and circumstance but about the substance of what happens inside and at the table.

George Coigny was a French chef at the helm of L’Antica Osteria del Teatro in Piacenza with 2 Michelin stars in the late 1970s. He fell in love with Lucia, a woman from the nearby Piacenza Hills and decided to retire and open a restaurant there. I still remember to this day everything I ate at La Cantoniera. I had opened my own restaurant, Trattoria del Campazzo, in 1986, and as a self-taught chef was eager to learn from anyone and everyone. There I experienced for the first time a perfect juxtaposition between French culinary techniques and local Emilian ingredients. I can still taste the ambrosia of foie gras or the morel mushrooms stuffed with roasted turkey mousse in mushroom juice or the chocolate demi-cui soufflé cake. George and I bonded over that meal and I asked him if I could intern with him on Mondays when Trattoria del Campazzo was closed. And so this became my first culinary training outside of my mother’s kitchen. George is no longer with us but I talk about him often to my staff and have dedicated many dishes to him.

Since I began traveling in the 1980s, I have tried street food from all over the world, from Mexico to Taiwan. But the most memorable moment happened one night in Bangkok in 2009.

I was cooking our Italian menu at the Sukhothai Hotel with two young chefs from my team, Davide di Fabio and Taka Kondo. After service one night, the chefs took us out for street food. Actually, they took us to a parking lot on the corner of a busy boulevard with crazy traffic. I remember a woman who looked like she was 100 sitting on a plastic chair under a lamppost taking the money and her husband behind a counter with a ladle and cauldron of hot soup. It was around midnight, still hot and sticky, but there still were bicycles, cars, Vespas and people walking by. We took our thee bowls of Tom Kha Gai Soup to the bench with three beers. Davide made the mistake of ordering his soup “extra spicy.” Even the guy behind the counter said, “Really?” Davide is from Southern Italy, so he is accustomed to hot spices. By the second spoonful his nose started bleeding from the hot spices and Taka and I began laughing so hard we almost missed the elephant walking by.

On the plane ride back to Italy, I started imagining how to travel with the palate and began a series of dishes using iconic Italian ingredients with a hint of flavors from around the world. Our kitchen has never been the same.

I had eaten sushi before, even in good sushi restaurants in Tokyo, New York and London but nothing had prepared me for the experience at the countertop of Jiro’s underground sushi den in the Ginza metro station. I had Japanese chefs working at Osteria Francescana and they had tried to explain the magic around the sushi cutting techniques but until I tasted it, I didn’t fully understand.

It was a revelation. What was so completely different from all the other sushi experiences I had had up to that moment was the texture revelation that Jiro creates through his cuts and treatment of the fish. Calamari took on a whole new meaning. Eel was comparable to the best desserts I’ve ever eaten in my life. But most of all, I was blown away by the rice: the acidity, the temperature and the texture. And I finally understood that sushi is all about the knife, the rice, and an obsession with fish.

Perhaps, the most memorable of all meals, was the last Christmas Eve dinner we sat around my mother’s dining table and shared a family meal with my brothers and sisters and our families before my mother passed away a month later, in January 2014. She had been in the hospital since October and celebrated her 89 birthday there in November and all she asked for was to be home for Christmas. My entire childhood revolved around meals with my five brothers, mother and father, aunts and uncles and grandmothers all squeezed around the dining room table in the middle of the kitchen. We are a noisy family that likes to eat and drink and play jokes. We all knew that this might be Luisa’s last Christmas, so we pushed to get her home in time to celebrate it together. We all cooked something that she loved. I made a copy of the roast Guinea fowl from my memory of Cantarelli, and my brother Paolo made the pasta with clams that my mother loved. My sister made zuppa Inglese and my brother Marco brought the wine.

We laughed and ate too much as we did every year. At midnight, instead of going to mass, we sat around the table telling stories. At that moment, I broke the news to my mother that I recently had spoken with the Cardinal in Milan and together we were going to open a soup kitchen in Milan, the Refettorio Ambrosiano, during the upcoming Universal Expo, to help feed the poor. Pope Francis had given us encouragement and his blessing. As a deeply religious Catholic, my mother took this news as something of great importance, much more than the 3 Michelin stars I had earned in 2012 or the international accolades. Finally, her son was using his culinary skills and the voice that had matured in him to lead an ethical campaign about fighting food waste and social isolation. This was her triumph and to me one of the most significant moments in my career. I like to think that we gave her the night of her life as a thanks for all the wonderful meals she cooked for us and the gift of teaching us to love the kitchen. I certainly would not be chef if it wasn’t for her. Thank you, mamma Luisa.

My Five Favorite Meals features the most cherished dining experiences of bartenders, chefs, distillers and celebrities.


Do you care about the future of food? You need to watch:

  • Corrado Assenza (season 4, episode 2)
  • Alex Atala (season 2, episode 2)
  • Dan Barber (season 1, episode 2)
  • Musa Dağdeviren (season 5, episode 2)
  • Virgilio Martínez (season 3, episode 6)
  • Magnus Nilsson (season 1, episode 6)
  • Bo Songvisava (season 5, episode 3)

Watch the video: Massimo Bottura: The Italian chef with a recipe to change the world - BBC REEL (January 2023).