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Massimo Bottura: Italy’s “IT” Chef

Massimo Bottura

Making this post was a tough call: not only because I did not have daylight on my side for food photography, but mostly because I was about to experience (probably) the best dining experience of my life – an evening with Massimo Bottura’s cuisine at Eataly Roma. Having said that, imagine my biggest food photography challenge combined with the pressure of having to photograph Massimo Bottura’s remarkable dishes.

Just in case you didn’t know, Massimo Bottura – chef and patron of Osteria Francescana in Modena – is considered Italy’s N.1 chef – and No. 5 in the world (and voted best chef by world’s best chefs). Yet, that night the three-star Michelin chef’s down to earth approach and charisma won the heart of the audience and reminded us that humbleness and spontaneity gets you farther in life.

Seafood salad with a bouillabaisse sauce

Seafood salad with a bouillabaisse sauce

Tongue with a red wine sauce and potatoes cream with extra virgin olive oil

Tongue with a red wine sauce and potatoes cream with extra virgin olive oil

Proud of his Emilian heritage, Bottura passionately explained us that while we brilliantly place our thumb and index fingers against a product named iPad, Modenese housewives brilliantly press their thumb and index fingers to shape fresh tortellini, which are not filled with ingredients – but with “ideas”. The broth below had been cooked for 3 days.

tortellini in brodo

Tortellini in brodo

Working with his staff

Working with his staff

Having a passion for Modern Art, Bottura showed us that food can be plated as an abstract chromatic painting – which he calls Camouflage –  and dared us to imagine a hare in the woods. Moreover, just as minimalism in contemporary art, the simplest and/or fewest elements are used with the right technique to create the maximum effect.

Dessert featuring hare's blood, foie gras, coffee foam, and hazelnuts

Dessert featuring hare’s blood, foie gras, coffee foam, chocolate, herbs and hazelnuts

Eating sbrisolona e camouflage with the fingers

Eating sbrisolona e camouflage with the fingers

An example of this is Bottura’s outstanding recipe Risotto Cacio e Pepe, which uses Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Vialone nano rice, and 5 types of pepper.

Adding 5 pepper essence to risotto

Spraying a 5 pepper essence over risotto

His numerous work experiences abroad illustrated us that while we might have all the good intentions to use km zero products, real life does not work that way and the world is full of fascinating aromas that go beyond our frontiers, and that it would be a pity if we did not make use of them. In the end, the world – and gastronomy as a consequence  –  is beautiful because it is diverse.

A cream of shallots, leeks, mushrooms with grated truffles

A cream of shallots, leeks and mushrooms with grated truffles

However, the most amazing thing Bottura shared with us is that no matter who your mentor is – even if he is Monsieur Alain Ducasse – neither a notebook, nor secrets and tricks would help boost your confidence to walk on your own feet, and that your best resource is “to follow your palate”.

The hands of an artist

The hand of an artist

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Your photos did justice to what you described as a wonderful dining experience — you beautifully captured how food can be so integral to our travel, relationship and, particularly this time of year, holiday memories. ~ Kat

    December 5, 2012
    • Thank you! It was tough though since the event was at night and had no daylight! Bottura is Ace!

      December 5, 2012
  2. What a fantastic meal! Bottura takes fine dining to new heights, Ambrosiana. He’s an artist and Camouflage his masterpiece. How wonderful that you were able to enjoy this dining experience. 🙂

    December 5, 2012
    • You got it! The Camouflage was a masterpiece! The most amazing thing about his food is that all flavors remained in you palate for long..that blew my mind.

      December 5, 2012
  3. Wow! I am very, very jealous of you! 🙂

    December 5, 2012
    • Indeed, not every day you get to eat Bottura’s unbelievable food!

      December 5, 2012
  4. layla46 #

    Bellissimo post! Grazie per avermi messa, poche nuore metterebbero la suocera! Bacio



    December 5, 2012
    • Di nulla!! La foto è venuta benissimo. Mi sono piaciute sia la Sua espressione che quella dello Chef Bottura!

      December 6, 2012
  5. Complimenti per le bellissime foto che mi hanno fatto rivivere la fantastica serata a Eataly di Roma.Massimo Bottura è una persona che fa della ricerca e innovazione continua il vero motivo del suo essere e ti spieghi perchè è il n.1 in Italia e 5° nel mondo.Grazie Giselle.
    Dicembre 5,2012

    December 5, 2012
    • Grazie mille!! Bottura è semplicemente un genio!

      December 6, 2012
  6. Amazing delicious photos!

    December 6, 2012
  7. Your talent at photography did Bottura’s beautiful dishes justice. It must have been a memorable experience.

    December 6, 2012
    • Thank you Karen! It was! I wish I had daylight for this event since it would have rendered the dishes even more beautiful!

      December 7, 2012

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