Evolution, not Revolution – Massimo Bottura

Massimo Bottura. Photo by Sigrid Verbert

“Avant-garde cuisine has enabled some chefs, such as Ferran Adrià and Massimo Bottura, to be recognised not only as chefs, but as artists both inside and outside their kitchens. In recent years, Bottura’s work has gained recognition in the international “gastro-community”, and also among artists and art lovers. His presentations at gastronomy congresses give food a unique artistic and philosophical expression, which could well be presented at the Tate Modern. Massimo is a man who admires art, music, history and poetry and is a perfectionist, deeply in love with his job.

His restaurant, Osteria Francescana, is in Modena, lying in the heart of the beautiful region of Emilia Romagna.  This region is the home of Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Prosciutto di Parma, Sangiovese di Romagna, Colli di Rimini, Aceto Balsamico di Modena,  and a long list of high quality products. Emilia Romagna has found in Bottura an ambassador of its flavours, but not in a conventional way. His cuisine respects and reflects tradition, but has its own free-spirit, always questioning the old and the new, pushing the boundaries, and opening doors to innovations and new cultural experiences.” writes about Massimo Bottura Luciana Bianchi.

His dishes have a rare combination of complex elaboration and poetic simplicity,  with detailed research, reflection and passion.

Quiet riot

Evolution, not revolution, is the way for modern Italian food, says its champion, chef Massimo Bottura.

Bottura's "Omaggio a Monk" - Photo by: Sigrid Verbert

“This is so precious to me, it’s like giving away blood from my body,” says Massimo Bottura. The chef is talking about his family’s balsamic vinegar; as he inverts the fine glass bottle half-filled with the decades-old liquid, it’s easy to see why it’s so precious. It runs like syrup, leaving a rich glaze on the glass as it courses to the other end of the vessel. Osteria Francescana, tucked away on the moneyed streets of Modena, pays honour to Emilia-Romagna’s great food products – Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto di Parma and, above all, aceto balsamico – and yet despite its location in this most conservative of cities, it is among Italy’s most progressive restaurants.

Describing Bottura as passionate is like saying the sea is wet. His kitchen is as reliant on art and music as oil and vinegar. The sleek restaurant’s modern interior is decked out with contemporary artworks, and dishes reference everyone from pianist Thelonious Monk to artist Joseph Beuys. Dinner could take in mortadella of the highest order with a line of pistachio dust beside it, or five artisanal parmesans of different ages, each in a different form, ranging from a crisp solid to an airy vapour. And then in the middle of this informed irreverence, Bottura will slip in some tiny, perfect tortellini, nothing tricky about them except their brilliance. At the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s masterclass in March, he demonstrated his take on the Magnum ice-cream – a tiny Paddlepop of foie gras parfait, crusted with hazelnuts and almonds, all wrapped around a surprise liquid centre of extra-old balsamic vinegar.

Though Bottura opened his first restaurant in 1987, Osteria Francescana has been where he found his mojo. After struggling for the first five years, business was bolstered by a Michelin star in 2002, and a second followed in 2005. In 2009, the restaurant was ranked at 13 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, the highest of any Italian restaurant, and now Bottura’s name is mentioned in the same breath as that of other gastronauts such as Ferran Adrià, René Redzepi and Heston Blumenthal.

Continue reading: http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/massimo-bottura.htm

Massimo Bottura’s http://www.osteriafrancescana.it/

Photos by: http://www.sigridverbert.com/

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