Massimo Bottura, The Ranks, The Dream, The Bachelor: “That’s How I Came Up To Here”
The team with whom to share the dream.
The roots do not forget, but to contaminate it with the new.
The ability to internalize the tradition, but in a critical way.
These are the pillars on which is based the success according to the neo doctor Massimo Bottura, a degree ad honorem at the University of Bologna. Already it is rare to have a recognition of this magnitude in Italy for a cook (at the time only remembers the one for the Master, the Marquis of Gastronomic Sciences at the University of Parma in 2012), but if you consider that the degree is in business management, we also understand the uniqueness of this event with which the academic body of the most ancient University of the Country gives the chef of the Osteria Francescana of Modena, the certification of the captain of the enterprise. Because, as pointed out by the prof. Massimo Bergami in the laudatio, dreams, hopes, creativity, and vision are fundamental, of course, but then it takes strength, perseverance, organization, discipline.
And in thirty years Bottura has had, and brought forward the one and the other. Today he is 54 but he was 24 when he left his studies in Law to follow his passion of cooking. The general public see the interviews on important international magazines – the New York Times Magazine has recently included among the 28 creative geniuses of the world – and the rewards on the catwalks in london and the us (first time for an Italian in first place in the ” World’s 50 Best Restaurants list). But they are not gifts raining down from the sky, as the fruits of personal work, and the chorale of the team. Sometimes suffered: his dad talked to him for almost two years when he said “I will cook”.
Here are the stages of these 30 years, as he told the chef when the guide Expressed the last year has given the 20/20, something which has never happened in 38 years of driving. “My mother, Luisa, a great cook, she cooked every Saturday and Sunday for 20-25 people. The table had a central value because they truly lived together. From there was born the natural way is my passion. On Sunday morning, they folded tortellini all together, we chatted in a mixture of aromas that then I have remained in the soul. My father never cooked, but came with the full auto from time to time some product of the season, in the summer, watermelons and melons, otherwise, meats and pumpkins. In the early ’70s, then we began real pilgrimages to the places of worship of food and wine. We left to go to discover the best food and wine. All this has marked my taste buds and my attitude towards food”.
It would have been logical to enroll at the culinary institute. What happened instead?
“No, I studied accounting. It was the age in which I had to start the real choices and well my father would have wanted me to be with him in his company which deals with petroleum products. I was very hard-fought. Also because my brother Paul is a great lover of music, he was playing with his friends. And I grew up to the rhythm of the bit. It is a period of great ferment in music and in fact music is a part of my life. Later, my father would have liked me to a degree in Law but I did not think of me in an office and evaluate my work in relation to the calculations on a commodity, a product for which a manufacturer is as good as another. Here there was a turning point and I decided to indulge my passion.”
Are the 80’s. Is the period of the Trattoria del Campazzo.
“Yes. I found a village really isolated, inhabited only by mosquitoes, this local Campazzo di Nonantola. I really want to do but still have plenty of not familiar”.
None of his friends or family in that moment would have bet on the career of Bottura at the stove: “I would have given six months of life”, he recalls during his lectio magistralis. The turning point? “One day a lady came to me on his Ape car, knocked on my door and asked me if I wanted a hand in the kitchen. Is Lidia Cristoni, great sfoglina, with which he was born a partnership, I can say the lord. She is still a point of reference for all the guys who come to Franciscan, and have to learn to pull the dough”.
Lydia is one of the people who have marked the life of Massimo Bottura as a cook. Who are the others?
“In 1988, I know a great French chef who moved to Piacenza, George Cogny. In the closing days of the restaurant I used to go to him to learn classic French cuisine, the basics… how many bowls I have prepared! From that experience I learned to appreciate the techniques applied to our traditions. Another character was fundamental to the Alain Ducasse and at the end of ’93 is out to lunch by myself, while he was in and around the region to try balsamic vinegar. At the end of lunch he offered me to go to him in monte carlo. No I did say two times. Here I get it in the first place, the obsession with quality. And at the same time, I acquired a great capacity of organization. Another important thing that he taught me is the cult of simplicity”.
There is a particular episode of that period to remember?
“Well, yeah, after almost a year from him, when it was time to go home, took the entire block of my notes that I had meticulously written during my experience in monte-carlo, and me pulled it out. He said to me: “you do Not do anything. Now you have to walk with your legs”. At that time I didn’t understand why he had destroyed my work for a long time. In fact his message was very important, was the endowment of the independence because of what I had learned techniques, cooking methods, knowledge of the subject, he had to remain a treasure in my mind, there had to be a ball at the foot, but the means to create something of my own. And he was right: Modena is not the Hotel de Paris”.
In these two anecdotes are as many pillars in the lection of a New document outlining essential elements of the contemporary kitchen author: “Because the state is only if one has mastery of the tradition and of the classical bases. At the center of everything there is the product, the religion of the ingredient. To consider the sacred as they did in the past when food was scarce, but to be appreciated as modern techniques allow”.
In fact, we are confident that the tradition respects the raw material? The question of provocation of the chef is essential. Also to explain that the ethnology is not in the service of the ego of the chef but the quality of the product. In the boiled not boiled the fibers of the cooked meat in a vacuum are not stressed by the long permanence in the water in boiling, one will gain in consistency and flavor. But it was difficult to understand for the citizens, who saw in him only the cook who wants to make strange things. Yet they were not strange, perhaps, visionary. Guilt is also a known person in New York “that has brought me closer to contemporary art, which made me realize that the aesthetics of what we see is not important, but the key part is the thought that is behind it. The cut of the Fountain is not as nice as the white canvas with a gash, but it is fascinating because there is an obsession behind. In this sense, the kitchen is close to art: the obsession for the quality of the ingredients is the same obsession of the quality of ideas”.
That person was Lara Gilmore, who later became lady Bottura. “It was on the 7th of April of 1993, I walked to Soho and had a great desire for a cup of Italian coffee. I joined a local named Coffee Grandmother, and I asked for an espresso. It took 20 minutes for me. I understand they were very unorganized. And I proposed to work there. On the same day, Lara went in search of work, was a student of art and theatre and how it is used in America wanted a job to make ends meet. The day after, the owner Rei Costantini has called you both and the 8th of April we met and never left. We worked together at the Coffee Grandmother for a few months, I am in the kitchen, Lara at the counter of the bar”.
The Osteria Francescana was going to happen, not without a step by Adrià, Spain. “In fact: once back in Italy, that was in September of ’93, I started to look around, and I moved from the trattoria Campazzo to via della Stella. It was a time when I needed a different local because I was different. The desire to grow and cook my own ideas was very strong. This was the period when you began to talk about Ferran Adrià, the chef was a magician, the magician of Roses. I was by him between the ’99 and 2000, but even if it is apparently in the kitchen could affect the ability to amaze and to master the secret, almost alchemical, in reality the message most valuable that has given me Adrià was the freedom. The idea that starting from the knowledge of the ingredients and techniques you could express emotions”.
We are in the early years of the 2000’s. The phenomenon Bottura was born in that period.
“Well, in a sense, yes, but it has not been an explosion, but a gradual and constant. Starting from the review of Enzo Vizzari, who, thanks to an accident on the highway between Modena and Bologna, in which he was traveling, change the road, passing through the town and booking from me, in the name Vizzù (he can always book under a false name ed.). The article was titled “Tagliatelle” post-modern”. After all, Modena and outside, have begun to look at myself in a different way. I was not a chef who wanted to do strange things, deviate from the tradition, but, on the contrary, someone with something to say, able to appreciate it and its tradition. I began little by little to interpret my ideas with the knowledge of the different. This contributed a series of meetings and observations, also of the customers”.
The rest, you could say, is history. In the dining Guide of the Espresso, Bottura goes from 12.5 of the guide in 1999 to 13.5 of the guides of 2000 and 2001, then to 15, 2002, so here’s to 16.5 in 2003 to 17.5 in 2004, 2005 and 2006. There’s also three hats: 18,5 in 2007 and 19 in 2008. 19,5 in 2009, until the director Enzo Vizzari “invented” for him in 2011, 19,75. But the ascent continued. “The 20/20 guide to 2016 – says the director – I could not deny it”. Meanwhile, hand in hand, three forks from Gambero Rosso and three stars from the Michelin guide, the first place in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Little by little you climb the peaks.
It’s all about the team, says moved at the ceremony. David and Taka in the kitchen, Beppe Palmieri and the guys in the room, the staff in the office. The best restaurant in the world, and also one of the social projects that are the best in the world, that of the refettorio Ambrosiano, takes the stage every day with a staff of 48 people for 30 seats.
Those who over the years has eaten at the Franciscan, in the true harvest, the museum of contemporary art, can then retrace the history with the dishes, through which he and his team use a plot old to weave a warp of new sensations, thrilling with the interpretation of the flavours are recognisable, but in a new form. Dishes revolutionaries at their birth, that then become classics.
From tagliatelle al ragù and tortellini, and the little finger on a cream of parmesan, the egg, embryonic, the ham (that has also inspired an episode of dr. House), cotechino with lentils, Zuppa inglese, hot-cold, Strawberry fields forever, black-on-Black homage to Thelonious Monk, the Magnum of foie gras, Bollito not boiled, the eel that goes up the Po, the memory of the crescentina with the mortadella, the roast guinea fowl not roasted, potato waiting to become a truffle, Camouflage, the red mullet alla livornese. Up to Ops I broke the tart lemon. Sweet among his most famous, mentioned in the lecture, which demonstrates how error you can find an opportunity