Bottura: wasting food means giving up

A morning in the Auditorium hall speechlessly listening to the chef from Modena, to Humm/Guidara, Cracco and Mukhin

09-02-2015
by Andrea Cuomo
Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, the author

Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, the author of a memorable lecture a while ago in the Auditorium hall, what with the tribute to Stefano Bonilli, the World Fair, the Refettorio project (photo credits by Brambilla/Serrani). Translation by Slawka G. Scarso

Monday in the main cathedral of Identità Golose is the real thing, the holy mass with all the songs. There’s no longer the racing pulse of the first day, but the adrenalin only differs in taste. Besides, today’s playlist includes tracks that fill the dance floor, one after the other. Before that, however, an almost crepuscular Paolo Marchi gives a speech that is almost a second opening talk and he is the first of many who will later pay a tribute to Stefano Bonilli, founder of Gambero Rosso, a man that did a lot for Italian gastronomy, and passed away six months ago.

SGROPPINO 2.0. Luca Sacchi and Carlo Cracco

SGROPPINO 2.0. Luca Sacchi and Carlo Cracco

The thin red line running through the first hours in the auditorium hall is the importance of service. Carlo Cracco lingers on this. He’s a star quite a few solar systems from planet food, for whom there are almost more people than for Inter at the Meazza stadium, a few hours before the match (alright, let’s not exaggerate or Paolo might get upset). Cracco is a media-man, he knows he has to apologise for what was said on television on Saturday, that is that to say that you put garlic in pasta all’amatriciana. Was it a gaffe? For the author of this piece, being from Rome (what can you do) this was a bit more than that and perhaps it is so as to be forgiven that he makes space for his team, leaves the work at the station on the stage of IG for the sous-chef of his restaurant, Cracco, in Via Victor Hugo, Luca Sacchi (who prepares, among other things, a new interpretation of the ancient Sgroppino, with mangosteen, scallop, litchis, dehydrated yuzu and baked hazelnut), and the honours of the arms go entirely to the staff, all young and beautiful. In other words, he enjoys playing the role of the kind, a little unarmed commander, and for a few minutes we enjoy thinking this is really the case.

The double lecture held by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, respectively chef and director at Eleven Madison Park in New York, one of the best restaurants in the world, keeping us low, was a true hymn to the virtues of a good service. “Do we want to be the generation witnessing the death of dining room service?”, was their alarm and without turning on the heat in the IG kitchen they fire up the much larger brazier of passion for teamwork. One could say: yes, but they are Real Madrid. What if you play for a small team? Perhaps you need to do a little more. This will be one of the main themes in high and medium cuisine over the next decade and the two leave the file open with style and an infectious smile.

Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park in New York with Ryan King and Paolo Marchi. A memorable lesson on the combined profession of dining room and kitchen

Daniel Humm and Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park in New York with Ryan King and Paolo Marchi. A memorable lesson on the combined profession of dining room and kitchen

And then there’s Russia. The great mother in the kitchen. With autochthonous products, because of that so-to-speak embargo, which despite being full of faults doesn’t leave the chef free all the same. Vladimir Mukhin, of The White Rabbit in Moscow, chooses to cook using products from Southern Russia, in particular from the Sochi area, the town of the Olympic Games and of honey, persimmon, trout, mussels from the Black Sea. Everyone’s curious about the first Russian at IG, about a country whose cuisine is much more exotic than others that are much further away, about a country which, as he says, “changes every day”, while he still believes in fairy tales, like the one of the persimmon, “according to which if a girl eats it every day, she will be beautiful forever”. Perhaps it is too late to chase the eternal age issue, yet let’s faithfully try the Persimmon with goat cheese, basturma (a sort of stronger tasting bresaola), mustard, vinegar and rocket salad. How about blinis? And caviar? Please try some other time.

RUSSIAN FISTS OF FURY. Vladimir Mukhin from Sochi, restaurant White Rabbit in Moscow

RUSSIAN FISTS OF FURY. Vladimir Mukhin from Sochi, restaurant White Rabbit in Moscow

Moments of expectation, screaming silence for Massimo Bottura, of Osteria Francescana in Modena who partly to show off and partly who knows why has everyone waiting for him on stage. He’s the man who knows that in one way or the other he always launches the “tags” of the congress. Which are, after all, culture, knowledge, sense of responsibility. But also recycling. Franciscan by name and by nature, Bottura presents his milk soup of the 2010s, a preparation that sixty years ago was the foundations of pre-boom Italy’s diet. This is the new miracle in Milan in 2015, the one he evokes on the eve of the Expo, which will be the celebration of food but of its waste too. And wasting food is a little like giving up. Hence a project for the food for the soul, which is both a question and an answer, transforming lost bread (the word they use in France for a simple cake) into earned bread (the name they use in Belgium for the same product). Thrilling. As usual. It was worth the wait, indeed no time was wasted.

Finally, the end arrives with Noi di sala, the association that aims at giving value to the other professions in the restaurant industry, and with Alma. A small pièce put into the hands of Marco Giallini transforms the auditorium in a real theatre. This was the only thing missing from IG. No longer so.