A true son of Emilia Romagna, the culinary capital of Italy, Massimo Bottura was born in Modena in September 1962 and is one of a growing band of innovative chefs that are pushing the boundaries of food and dining as we have come to know them. Massimo’s first experience of food and ingredients came from the many hours he claims he spent under his grandmother’s kitchen table, where he went to seek refuge from his older brothers. Here, at her knee, his great love affair with all things culinary began, and he took the first steps of his journey to the culinary excellence that would one day see his restaurant receiving no less than 3 Michelin stars.
A bit about his background.
Massimo did not initially set out to become a chef; he was studying law in 1986, when he heard that a roadside trattoria on the outskirts of Modena was for sale. He decided to take a break from his studies, bought and renovated the building and a week later he opened his first restaurant, the Trattoria del Campazzo; the rest, as they say, is history and the law faculty’s loss was the Culinary world’s gain.
It was not an overnight success story for Massimo Bottura, but rather a journey of discovery as he first apprenticed with Chef Georges Cogny, where the foundations of his culinary knowledge were laid down with a good grounding in the principles of regional Italian cooking combined with classic French cuisine. He later worked with renowned chefs Alain Ducasse (Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo) and Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame in Spain.
Massimo opens his restaurant in his home town: Modena.
In 1995 he opened Osteria Francescana in the medieval city centre of his home town, Modena, with the intention of combining contemporary art, traditional Italian cuisine and his now-renowned innovative genius. In the following years Massimo and Osteria Francescana received numerous awards, including his first Michelin Star in 2002. A second star followed in 2006 and in 2012 he received his third Michelin star, making him one of only 7 Italian chefs to have been so honoured.
In addition, Osteria Francescana was named the Best Italian Restaurant in the world, and the 4th Best Restaurant in the World in 2011, on The World’s 50 Best Restaurant List. In the latest list for 2013, he has climbed yet another rung of the ladder and is placed at no 3!
The signature dishes of Massimo Bottura.
And the food, you may ask… Massimo himself describes each of his innovative dishes as being a reconstruction of an idea, a memory or a smile, and since he has lived in Modena all his life, the region plays an important role in his food. To whet your appetite, here are a couple of the dishes which will be served for his New Year’s Eve dinner – dedicated to his friends around the world with inspiring dishes from all corners of the globe. From Italy comes Sea urchin spaghetti in the Neopolitan tradition with aglio, olio e peperoncino (olive oil, garlic and chilli), from France there is Foie gras and white truffle (a marriage of French and Italian delicacies) in an Emilian ravioli. Nordic countries are represented by the Aurora borealis dish – porcini, black truffles, chestnuts, chocolate and pumpkin beneath a blanket of leaves.