Bottura-Ducasse: here’s how it went

Words and photos from the extraordinary dinner at Identità Golose Milano with the two great chefs together for Food for Soul

14-12-2018
Alain Ducasse and Massimo Bottura at Identità

Alain Ducasse and Massimo Bottura at Identità Golose Milano. Photos from Sonia Santagostino

Massimo Bottura: «Please, pay attention. Tonight I have an extraordinary scoop. I’ll tell you something no one knows. People of Milan, please understand that the best panettone is not here in Milan, but in Monaco! His words! His words!» and he points at  Alain Ducasse who first looks at him seemingly innocently and amused, then replies among the laughter: «But it’s true! It’s true!». Hugs, smiles, «this is the spirit of this night: we’ve been friends for over 25 years», says the chef from Modena.

Presenting the dinner with Massimo Bottura, Alain Ducasse, Claudio Ceroni, Paolo Marchi

Presenting the dinner with Massimo Bottura, Alain Ducasse, Claudio Ceroni, Paolo Marchi

Exceptional things are born from a friendship; and if this relationship is between two globally acclaimed giants of cuisine, the result is an unforgettable dinner, like the one featuring Bottura and Ducasse the other night at Identità Golose Milano, the first international hub of gastronomy.

The chefs with their most important assistants: Romain Meder and Jessica Prealpato from Plaza Athénée, Massimo Bottura, Matteo Zonarelli, whom we had met at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 when he was working in Macao with Umberto Bombana and recently at Osteria Francescana, Alain Ducasse and Jessica Rosval, also from Osteria Francescana

The chefs with their most important assistants: Romain Meder and Jessica Prealpato from Plaza AthénéeMassimo BotturaMatteo Zonarelli, whom we had met at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 when he was working in Macao with Umberto Bombana and recently at Osteria FrancescanaAlain Ducasse and Jessica Rosval, also from Osteria Francescana

An extraordinary event, sought after for a long time, and soon accomplished, «tonight, Paolo and I are making our dream come true - Claudio Ceroni, founder with Marchi ofIdentità Golose said – We had imagined this extraordinary couple at the opening of the hub, on September 18th. For various reasons it was not possible, but we’ve made it now and for this we’re endlessly grateful to Bottura andDucasse».

Behind the dinner, a remarkable scope: raising funds, among the around 80 participants, for Food for Soul, the charity founded by Bottura and his wife Lara Gilmore to fight food waste in favour of social inclusion. This has given life to the charity projects led by Massimo and his group, first of all the Refettorios. «For us in Milan,Food for Soul is most of all Refettorio Ambrosiano, a project launched in the days of Expo –Marchi recalled – These projects are not temporary. They continue: tonight, for instance, Refettorio Ambrosiano is led by Carlo Cracco and his team. It’s a praiseworthy commitment that a few days ago led Massimo to receive a gold medal from the Town of Milano, the so called Ambrogino. «He was so excited!» (see Bottura e Sadler: Milano li premia, Identità li festeggia, available in Italian).

Carlo Cracco, Massimo Bottura and Alain Ducasse laughing

Carlo Cracco, Massimo Bottura and Alain Ducasse laughing

Bottura is super-excited, he’s full of adrenalin, as usual, in fact, even more. He grabs the microphone again: «When I first told Alain, in 2015, that we were creating the Refettorios, I didn’t need to say much. He immediately replied: "There’s no problem, I’m coming too. When? On July 14th, the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, we will be at Refettorio Ambrosiano". Perfect». It was 2015; Ducasse is among the very few who have cooked in all four of the Refettorios opened by Food for Soul around the world. The next step will be on Friday, for the presentation of the opening in Naples, «we had a few glitches, I had to call Gennaro Esposito at the last moment. "Gennaro, will you be there?" He immediately made himself available». He’ll cook with Pasquale Torrente and Ciro Oliva. «They were all ready to say: "Yes, Massimo, we’ll be there!”. Great».

Our Cinzia Benzi with Cristina Reni from Food for Soul

Our Cinzia Benzi with Cristina Reni from Food for Soul

Before sitting at the table, we bump into Cristina Reni, project manager at Food for Soul. With her, we speak about the many projects: «We keep on growing. We now have Refettorios in Milan, Rio de Janeiro, Paris and London, while we run social tables in Modena, Bologna and now Naples, where it will be open every Monday inside the cloister of Santa Caterina in Formiello, in Porta Capuana. This is where Fondazione Made in Cloister has been working successfully since 2012». In 2019 « first, we will create a connection between all these activities. Then we will focus our commitment on quality, rather than quantity: we want to give moments of happiness and we can do so because we work hard, with passion and love».

A group photo

A group photo

Dishes begin to arrive from the kitchen, where Massimo and Alain are working with Romain MederDucasse’s chef at the iconic Plaza Athénée, and his pastry-chef Jessica Prealpato, and some pillars from the brigade at Osteria Francesana, including Jessica Rosval, as well as all the staff at Identità Golose Milano, of course, with coordinator Andrea Ribaldone, chef Alessandro Rinaldi, pastry-chef Gabriele Tangari and sommelier Andrea Polini. Six courses, here’s how it went.

Chausey islands scallops, cauliflower in a brioche crust, kimchi from the leaves, from Alain Ducasse and Romain Meder (paired with Dom Pérignon 2009)
The juice is made with cauliflower leaves, then there’s a sort of cauliflower kimchi. Essential, clean.

An eel swimming up the Po river, from Massimo Bottura (Dom Pérignon 2009)
«In 1596 the Pope taxed eel fishing, so the Este family moved their capital from Ferrara to Modena. Their journey is represented in this eel, which touches Veneto, and meets polenta, and arrives in Mantua, meeting the campanina apple, and finally saba in the countryside of Modena, before arriving at Osteria Francescana».

The crunchy part of the lasagna, from Massimo Bottura (Dom Pérignon Rosé 2005)
«It’s an emotional dish. When you leave Italy, you’ll find spaghetti Bolognese everywhere, except they don’t exist in Bologna. But pasta is in our DNA, so I take the spaghetti, season them in three different ways (tomato, Parmigiano and herbs) and transform them into the cruncy part of the lasagna creating a dehydrated, fried and smoked Italian flag. I finally add a classic Bolognese ragù, the meat minced with a knife, and a bechamel with an aftertaste of nutmeg, a grandmother’s memory».

Beautiful, psychedelic, spin-painted veal, not flamed grilled, from Massimo Bottura (Amarone Allegrini 2014)
«The main course is a tribute to one of my passions, contemporary art. Here we have Damien Hirst inspiring the idea of transforming the edges in edible colours which we "shoot" on the plate in a seemingly random way. It’s the squaring of the circle, with notes of umami. In the middle, not veal, this time, but beef: pressed in milk, then dried, rolled in herbs, vacuum-cooked at low temperature. It’s a play on perception, and therefore recalls Alighiero Boetti too». Phenomenal elegance.

Caesar salad in bloom, from Massimo Bottura (Berlucchi Cuvée Imperiale Demi-sec)
«A transformed salad, the evolution of the evolution of a dish which we have gradually transformed into a dessert. There are 25 aromatic elements, the lettuce, the flowers, the yogurt made from almond milk, a camomile extract, elderberry flower vinegar, dehydrated amarene and duroni cherries and so on. Every mouthful is different, stimulating».

Citrus fruits from Michel Bachès in bitterness, amaro granita, from Jessica Prealpato and Alain Ducasse
Incredible, with endless aromatic nuances defined by the rare citrus fruits produced by Michel Bachès: orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, yuzu, mapo, kumquat, Buddha’s hand, bizzarria (a crossing of bitter orange and citron), lemon caviar and much more. The Bachès’s produce 800 varieties, all organic. It’s a play on bitter notes, among Ducasse’s favourite ones. On the side, a slice of Gâteau basque with custard and grapefruit jam. «We tested many techniques in order to find a dessert that would make the client enjoy a different flavour at each mouthful», Prealpato says. Monsieur Alain’s opinion of her is clear: «She’s simply a genius». We agree.

Jessica Prealpato and Romain Meder

Jessica Prealpato and Romain Meder

Massimo Bottura and Claudio Ceroni

Massimo Bottura and Claudio Ceroni

Alain Ducasse and Paolo Marchi

Alain Ducasse and Paolo Marchi

Bottura and Ducasse with Rodrigo Oliveira, The Brazilian chef is the protagonist of the dinners at Identità Golose Milano until Saturday 15th

Bottura and Ducasse with Rodrigo Oliveira, The Brazilian chef is the protagonist of the dinners at Identità Golose Milano until Saturday 15th

Ducasse and Cracco

Ducasse and Cracco

Franco Aliberti with chefs and sous chef at Identità Golose Milano, Alessandro Rinaldi and Alessio Sebastiani

Franco Aliberti with chefs and sous chef at Identità Golose MilanoAlessandro Rinaldi and Alessio Sebastiani

Claudio Scavizzi and Davide Groppi

Claudio Scavizzi and Davide Groppi

Ducasse and Bottura with Almir Ambeskovic, Head of The Fork in Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark

Ducasse and Bottura with Almir Ambeskovic, Head of The Fork in Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark

Bottura hugs Clément Vachon, Communication and International Relations Director at Sanpellegrino

Bottura hugs Clément Vachon, Communication and International Relations Director at Sanpellegrino

Andrea Ribaldone, Paolo Marchi, Paola Jovinelli and Claudio Ceroni

Andrea Ribaldone, Paolo MarchiPaola Jovinelli and Claudio Ceroni

The pastry chef from Identità Golose Milano, Gabriele Tangari, and the one from Plaza Athénée, Jessica Prealpato

The pastry chef from Identità Golose MilanoGabriele Tangari, and the one from Plaza AthénéeJessica Prealpato

Final autographs

Final autographs

«A heartfelt thanks goes to Identità Golose Milano, chef Alain Ducasse, his team, to the brigade of friends from Osteria Francescana. Together with our founder Massimo Bottura, they gave life to an incredible fund-raising dinner in Milan. Thanks to the support of this fantastic group of people, we will be able to create new social projects and spread our message with a stronger and stronger voice. We’re very happy to share our vision with them. Cooking is a call to action» (Food for Soul)

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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Reviews, recommendations and trends from Italy, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose