Massimo Bottura, the value of wishing good morning

The human factor is about understanding others, questioning, sharing. A much appreciated speech in the Auditorium

05-03-2018

Massimo Bottura, taking a much appreciated speech at Identità Milano (photo Brambilla/Serrani, translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso​)

Massimo Bottura’s 2018 lesson begins unexpectedly with a 20-second video: Milen has a good appearance on the screen: «Ladies and gentlemen», he says, «let me explain what you need in a restaurant: passion, love, talent, silence, absolute harmony, collaboration, a team. There is strength in numbers. Full stop».

Among the cheers, his boss gets on stage, followed by almost all of the team, who take place behind the stoves. «Milen is from Tortellante, a charity dedicated to families of people with autism. We hired him at Francescana. He makes excellent bread. Every day, he reminds us of the value of important things».

The lesson focuses on an important concept: «The value of saying good morning, something Pope Francis reminds us of every day. As well as Dalai Taka», he jokes while on the screen his Japanese sous chef Takahiko Kondo appears, in this case retouched on Photoshop so that he looks like the Dalai Lama. «Good morning means paying attention to everyday things without losing your way. Osteria Francescana is the sum of different cultures. Taka comes from a country where respect is the most important thing. Sharing this respect allows us to understand others. A greeting is the key that opens all doors. Wishing good morning is the real human factor».

The greeting that starts to cement the team: «In our restaurant, we don’t just serve meals. We seek a constant dialogue between raw materials and ingredients for one reason: so as to reveal beauty. The walls surrounding us are the walls of a home and a family. Think of how many hours we spend together, the strength necessary to support this family. The human factor makes each day unique and unrepeatable».

Here comes the first of 3 dishes, each expressing a story, an interpretation of the leitmotiv of the 2018 edition of Identità Milano. «Who are you? This is what I always ask them. It’s my favourite exercise. A very serious game». This is how Edward’s, aka Edy’s Souffle di Tiramisu was born. «One day I see this guy from Monmouth, in Wales. It’s raining. I invite him to come in. He says he doesn’t want to disturb. He just wants to meet me. I ask him what do you do. He says, bread. Go on, take this jacket and show me who you are. This happened six months ago. He’s still with us».

Edy’s journey meets that of Robin, «He’s the other pastry chef we have. His training is rather classic, having worked with Alain Ducasse for a long time. When love, dream and perfect technique meet. The result is our tiramisu which grows like a soufflé, extracting the mascarpone, with a central demi-cuit, a sponge on the side that becomes a savoiardo. On the side, mascarpone ice cream, served as a chaud/froid with coffee gel». In conclusion: «If you leave some space for everyone, you create doubts. But it is only by questioning what you think you know, that you can grow. We chase criticalities, not nostalgia. This is our strength. As well as sharing, sha-ring, the only opportunity we have to help each other».

Crowds in and outside the Auditorium

Crowds in and outside the Auditorium

Allen and Jessica, Autumn in New York 2018

Allen and Jessica, Autumn in New York 2018

The second dish is a variation on the theme of the now famous Autumn in New York, Billie Holiday’s song which acquires chameleonic traits depending on the place and the season: «We’ve had Spring in KyotoSummer in ThailandSpring in Naples…». Jessica and Allen, two Canadians from the team get on stage. They make a classic soup from their place, with potato pancakes, crème fraîche and applesauce. «It’s as if it had corridors that allow you to move from one room to the other. A deep acidity that cleans the palate and prepares you for a new journey». Hot broth with a very acid dashi of grilled apples, poured on top.

Third dish, a dessert. «Last year, in January, we all went to Mexico to celebrate Taka’s and Karime Lopez’s wedding. My son Charlie came too. He was thrilled: ‘at last I can go with all the team’. A short while later he turned 17. We prepared a chocolate fountain. He went crazy: he kept dipping marshmallows in it. Karime saw this and started thinking of a dish. When Taka and I went to Florence, [to Gucci Osteria, Bottura’s restaurant opened a few weeks ago], we found Charlie Marlie, a dessert made with a cream of hazelnuts, which recalls Nutella, and dark chocolate, which is part of her experience, given she’s Mexican and has worked in Lima for a long time. A tribute to Osteria’s blended family».

Bottura and Dalai Taka

Bottura and Dalai Taka

Closing time. «You cannot speak of the human factor unless you speak of the team. The team is everything. Today, everyone wants to become a chef. But the human factor is about the work of dairy producers, farmers, wine producers. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you must aim for the impossible together. This is why I try to give everyone space, give them attention. I’ve always tried to be a trainer of ideas, giving directions and leaving space for creativity, without hierarchies and urging people to be creative and to share».

«Every service is like the final match in the Champions League: sometimes we’re brilliant, sometimes we’re less so. But we must be self-critical and go ahead. Win every challenge, without losing trust in ourselves. Nothing compares to the joy of succeeding together. It’s the greatest satisfaction, experiencing life to the fullest. There’s no satisfaction, unless you can share it with others». Thunderous applause.


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