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Chef Talk: Massimo Bottura

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Massimo Bottura

Osteria Francescana
What we try to do at Osteria Franscescana is subvert our diners’ expectations, sneak up behind their palates, and surprise them with clear, fresh, and true Italian flavours. Our dishes talk about memory, both personal and cultural; we make references to music, film and art. We turn mistakes into triumphs and look for what’s hiding underneath the rocks. But at the end of the day, all of our energy is devoted to making good food, healthy food, and delicious food that not only satisfy the empty belly but stimulate the mind. I love music, art and food; I want to share all of those things with the people around me. That is what we try to do with our restaurant, to invite guests in to see things from another point of view.

Revered Chefs
I have been very lucky to have several culinary idols such as Georges Coigny, Lidia Cristoni, Alain Ducasse and Ferran Adrià. Each of them taught me something valuable; Alain Ducasse taught me the value of using locally sourced ingredients and the importance of establishing trusting relationships with artisans, farmers, fishmongers and so forth. These lessons were learned during my time at Ducasse’s restaurant Le Louis XV, and they helped guide my decision to open Osteria Francescana. My last mentor was Ferran Adrià. During the summer of 2000, I was given the opportunity to cook with his incredible team at elBulli. He pushed me over the edge and taught me not to be afraid of my ideas.

New Invention
Riso Pizza – a risotto that wants to be a pizza and tastes like the best pizza you could ever dream of.

Tradition In Evolution
I’ve been working on the idea of “Tradition in Evolution” (an imaginative tasting menu that includes the infamous “Oops! I dropped the lemon tart” and “The crunchy part of the lasagna” dishes) since opening Osteria Francescana 20 years ago. I needed to shake things up in order to find my place within the centuries of tradition that is the Italian kitchen. It has taken a lot of experiments, mistakes, and surprising discoveries to find my own interpretation of the Italian kitchen along the way.

Citizens Of The World
I often advise young chefs to get out into the world and out of the kitchen. Chefs need to be citizens of the world as much as they need to be good cooks. The only way to keep ideas flowing is to participate in the world around you; read, listen, travel, talk, think, cook and question everything.

Definition Of An Italian Chef
You can define an Italian chef by the way ingredients are used. The Italian kitchen is clean, healthy and seasonal. It is fresh and delicious, and has distinct flavours that represent its unique and diverse terrain. It is about treating ingredients with respect. Being born and raised in Italy helps a great deal because in Italy, one learns from a very young age that food is love.

Osteria Francescana, Via Stella 22, Modena, Italia; www.osteriafrancescana.it