Massimo Bottura: «We are the ancient people, now»

The chef from Modena at Identità after two and a half years: «The past makes us wise». And then he lists all the important results he's reached. And he ends: «Restaurants are enterprises, let's not forget this»

Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana (Modena, an

Massimo BotturaOsteria Francescana (Modena, and much more) on Monday 27th September, Identità Milano. Photo Brambilla/Serrani

«I'd start by pointing out two facts: I still have butterflies in my stomach, after 16 years of congress. Second: thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the girls and boys at Identità Golose who have created such a great event in such a difficult situation». Massimo Bottura returns full of energy on the stage of Milan after two and a half years.

«We are the ancient people», he says. «We are the product of a huge past behind us. And this makes us wise, even though passively so. The only mistake we could make would be to forget this. A false step we've never made in Francescana. The past is a gold mine. It's experience. Tradition. Territory. It's the place where raw materials are influenced by the spirit of the place. Innovation is based on this. Whether we're aware of this or not, this is our history. We are the ancient people».

A premise to remember all the accomplishments made in this very complicated time. «The lockdowns gave us time, precious time for ourselves and our families. We had a duty to use it fully». So: «From April to now we've opened 4 new Refettori: in Mexico, in Lima, San Francisco, New York. Last Thursday, in the middle of the Australian lockdown, we served the first meal at the soup kitchen in Sydney, 200 meals to go. Then we opened Cavallino in Maranello. Two weeks ago we opened Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Tokyo too. And the United Nations have made me an ambassador against food waste».

Left to right, Valerio Marcattillii and Salvatore Tassa

Left to right, Valerio Marcattillii and Salvatore Tassa

Takahiko Kondo, chef in Modena

Takahiko Kondo, chef in Modena

At the same time, in Via Stella two menus were conceived with the same name but different depths, «Because creativity, Joseph Beuys used to say, has no time or deadline. It's a candle you must always keep alight, or it dies. The first was an extraordinary menu, full of colours, full of what we are. The second, the current one, was inspired by the greatest dishes of Italian cuisine of the past 50 years».

And the stories continues with the new magnificent menu available now in Via Stella (we wrote about it here). Surprise: two chefs from him he drew to precious ideas arrive on stage: Salvatore Tassa (Onion fondant, which becomes Millefoglie of bread and onion) and Valentino Marcattilii (Sirloin from San Domenico which becomes vegan with the Aubergine, smoked glaze and herb sauce). The cook from Ciociaria tells the curious birth of his signature dish, back in 1990: «I started surrounded by a gastronomic void. There was only the house kitchen. One day a waiter refused to serve my onion. My answer: either you bring the onion, or you leave. He came back and I understood that there was a future for my onion». The proof is here, on the stage of Identità.

And then the transfiguration of Gualtiero Marchesi's cold spaghetti (now Spaghetti salad with caviar), Fulvio Pierangelini's stuffed scallops (now Scallop ravioli and mortadella, fennel chowder, marinated apple), Mirella and Peppino Cantarelli shown in an irresistible old film and their Savarin di Riso (Chawanmushi of Parmigiano, tongue, spugnole mushrooms, edible podded peas, asparagus and mushroom jus), Cold soup of Carbonara by Gianfranco Vissani (which in Modena becomes Custard with pepper, jowl bacon, banana, pecorino ice cream, caviar), Corrado Assenza's cannolo…

The closing statement is on the theme of the congress, “work”: «I listened carefully to the message launched by Carlo Cracco and I can only agree with him and all the cooks who shared similar thoughts. Today, being a cook, or better a restaurateur, requires that you combine many different aspects, including the economic dimension. We have understood this even better in the past year and a half. We started to think of these crucial organisational aspects a few years ago, at the Business School in Bologna. We understood clearly that, on top of creativity, of teamwork and communication, it's important to consider the management aspects. Our restaurants are enterprises by all means. Together with sustainability as a universal value we must also consider the economic sustainability of what we do».

«Only this way can we reach our goals. Which are: preserving and spreading Italian culture. Innovation as a shared value. Creating new jobs. Being entrepreneurs means looking far ahead, investing in the future. Don't just invest in yourselves but in your team, in your business, so that you can grow slow and strong, like oak trees. Motivation is only an anticipation of emotions. For this reason, imagine the satisfaction to be experienced when we have results for us, for those who work for us, and for our communities. Thank you».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

IG2021: il lavoro


Gabriele Zanatta

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. 
twitter @gabrielezanatt
instagram @gabrielezanatt

Author's articles list