Delicious tortellini at Tortellante. Made by 24 autistic kids

Dealing with disability in an educational and fun way: the latest project supported by Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore

16-04-2019
Massimo Bottura with his son Charlie, at Refet

Massimo Bottura with his son Charlie, at Refettorio Ambrosiano in Milan where he presented Il Tortellante, the fresh-pasta workshop where autistic kids make Modenese tortellini and roll out tagliatelle with the help of rezdore. They already make more than 10 kg per day. To order some info@tortellante.it

We’re back at  Refettorio Ambrosiano and it feels like the Greco neighbourhood is shining under a new light. The small piazza is more charming, they’ve planted trees inside small islands, and on the other side of the road they’ve opened a new bar.

In under 4 years, the father of all Refettorios has multiplied its locations around the world, perhaps not 100 times as we had foreseen but 10: after Milan, came Modena, Bologna, Naples, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, London. Now Merida in Mexico and San Francisco are coming up. And there are plans for Florence, Montreal, Sydney, and Quito in Ecuador. In these 3 years, the Refettorio in Milan, Food for Soul and Caritas never stopped serving 95 meals each night, to people welcomed with dignity, with kindness and using discarded products or products close to their use-by date, given each night by Coop and Ortomercato.

This morning the Ambrosiano was fully decorated for a new project that Massimo Bottura mentioned a few days ago, from the stage of Identità Golose. It’s called Tortellante, and it’s an educational workshop born to teach disadvantaged kids how to make tortellini and tagliatelle. «A project that has the aroma of freedom and change», the chef told the other morning to the authorities, «and teaches to deal with disability in a positive way, improving the future of these kids and our own future too».

Lara Gilmore, wife of Bottura and co-founder of Food for Soul

Lara Gilmore, wife of Bottura and co-founder of Food for Soul

The Tortellante team

The Tortellante team

Tortellini half in broth and half in cream prepared at Refettorio for around one hundred guests. They all asked for a second helping 

Tortellini half in broth and half in cream prepared at Refettorio for around one hundred guests. They all asked for a second helping 

In the middle, Erika Coppelli, president at Tortellante

In the middle, Erika Coppelli, president at Tortellante

In under two years, the recreational exercise has become a serious game: «There are now 24 kids, almost all of them autistic, closing the tortellini», explained Erika Coppelli, president at Tortellante, «and the rezdore who teach them to do so are around twenty». Forty-eight people who assemble 44 kilos of tortellini each week, 180 kilos per month, 2 tons per year. These delicacies are then used at events promoted by Gucci or Lamborghini or Tetrapak, you can find them at the Cerea brothers’ in Brusaporto or in the bowls of endless private customers. A growing number of tortellini-fans that has forced the association to open an e-commerce website (soon online) and think of opening a shop too.

Please note that these are Modenese tortellini: do not mix them up with the Bolognese ones. «The filling», the kids explained, «is made with prosciutto crudo, mortadella, pork, parmigiano reggiano, nutmeg. Sometimes we add a touch of beef. Compared to our cousins, the filling is included in the pastry when it’s already partially cooked; in Bologna it’s only raw». Today’s sauce was a Botturian toposTortellini half in broth, and half in cream, a compromise that has the bickering schools of thought of those who want them made in one way, or the other, agree. Modenese tortellini served in a reduced capon broth and with cream of parmigiano. So good that those who finished the second helping (everyone, that is) clapped their hands with the energy of football fans. Try yourself by writing to info@tortellante.it.

Bottura with representatives of Comune di Milano and Bper Banca, a strong supporter of Tortellante

Bottura with representatives of Comune di Milano and Bper Banca, a strong supporter of Tortellante

In the kitchen, making strawberry desserts 

In the kitchen, making strawberry desserts 

Rezdore and volunteers 

Rezdore and volunteers 

A final thought: Massimo Bottura is the chef at Osteria Francescana in Modena, the restaurant number one in the World's 50Best, 3 Michelin stars. He has 3 degrees honoris causa, he has held lectio magistralis to the creatives of Nike and Google, they call him from Australia to Canada and he has cooked for heads of state and princes, world renown artists and entrepreneurs. With his wife Lara Gilmore they could focus just on cooking. But they’ve decided to invest a large part of their energies on Food for Soul: through Refettorio, which gives dignity to the less lucky people, and now through Tortellante, a workshop for special kids. Projects based on gratuitous gestures and on unconditional generosity.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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