Massimo Bottura: Italy’s “IT” Chef
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.