Massimo Bottura and Alain Ducasse at Eataly NY
The great Massimo Bottura, Italian chef who was many times nominated as one of the best worldwide and was last year proclaimed also as the Italian chef of the year, was in 1993 gaining some knowledge also at Louis XV, the flagship restaurant od Alain Ducasse in Montecarlo. “You’ve learned the technique, now you have to try your own way” were the worlds of his teacher when he was leaving Monaco.
Now, a bit less than 2o years later, the teacher and the pupil (who seem more like brothers since there are only 6 years of age difference between them) presented themselves together at Eataly in New York.
“What defines a great chef?” asked them Italian journalist Gabriele Zanatta. For Ducasse it’s Sylvain Portay, executive chef of his Adour at St. Regis hotel in New York. “Heart, ingredients and fire” are for Ducasse the magical words. Bottura swears on “Passion, humbleness and dreams”.
Bottura passionately states that he wants people to fall in love with Italy and that for that everybody should start with the small details. Good cheese is result of the good nutrition of cows. He proudly lists wonderful Italian products like almonds from Noto, coffee Tierra Lavazza, very bitter, with notes of salt and vanilla, concentrate of powder of lemons from Sorrento. And slowly he moves to his own dish for New York.
Rosotto cacio e pepe. It’s a new interpretation of risotto, new form of “cacio e pepe” which is normally done with pasta. Why risotto and not pasta? “Because rice vialone nano is an icon of the Po territory”. And what else contains the dish? “It’s an abstract picture of Emilia Romagna. With fog of Grana Padano: metaphor of tranquil life. It’s a gaseous emulsion made from liquid with zero grasses. Fog on the Hudson River.” And pepper? “The crazy Grana Padano cream is sprayed with extract of 6 different peppers: I wanted that they all explode on the top of risotto”.
And Alain Ducasse? He stands behind Portay who works with mortar and pestle like the artisans from Genoa, only that the sauces are different. He puts them in small transparent bowls. Micro Mediterranean world composed of olives, porcini, white beans, tomatoes and flavours from Sicilly, anchovies, cherry vinegar. Flavours which will evolve around fusilli Felicetti. Triumph of taste and beauty of manual work are for Ducasse the base of the haute cuisine.
And what do Bottura and Ducasse say about the future of cuisine? They both bet on Alps. “Italy, France and Japan are the cuisines of the future. Trend is one thing, but real cuisine is something else,” concludes Massimo Bottura who will on 16th and 18th November cook together with Alain Ducasse in Montecarlo for the 20th birthday of Louis XV.
Photos by Francesca Brambilla and Serena Serrani