Massimo Bottura and Takahiko Kondo from Osteria Francesana in Modena. The Modenese chef opened the last masterclass at Identità New York, edition number 8 (photo Brambilla/Serrani)
Eight editions out of eight. Last night Massimo Bottura completed the set of lessons at Identità New York. There couldn’t have been a better finale for the 8th edition. And even though we knew the repertoire of the chef from Modena by heart («We need to analyse the past with criticism, not nostalgia», «Know everything and later forget everything», «Compress ideas into edible morsels»), it’s hard to be a cold reporter in front of such passionate speeches.
Yesterday Bottura not only summed up an idea in a dish, but the synthesis of an oeuvre based on thousands of gestures born from intuitions. A universal collection that was already clear from the name of the dish itself: “Sometimes partridge, sometimes mallard filled with bollito misto not boiled, in a civet cooked as a mole, with a chawanmushi of everything”.
«We start with ‘sometimes’», his journey across time begins, «because with game the unexpected is always round the corner: you ask for mallard and get partridge; ask for partridge and get mallard. The contemporary chef must always be alert». The breast of the mallard is filled with bollito non bollito, an iconic recipe in Via Stella which Bottura explains to the American audience in these words: «It’s a Christmas classic in northern Italy, but most of all it was a turning point in my journey. It was born as the answer to a question I asked myself when looking at the folds of a piece of meat raised in Piedmont by heroic artisans, in 2005. Why should I boil it in water? Nobody wondered this, for thousands of years. What if, by boiling it, you loose vitamins, proteins and all the most important nutrients? Vacuum cooking is so much better». This is the heuristic born from small questions, «from the impulse of conveying the best of the past into the future. From new urges».
Sometimes partridge, sometimes mallard, filled with bollito non bollito in a civet that becomes a mole
Chanamushi of everything
Bottura also presented his latest editorial work, "Bread is Gold", published by Phaidon, out in November. The book includes 65 recipes with left over ingredients, signed by the great chefs who cooked at Refettorio in Milan
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
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born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes.