Over the past ten years Massimo Bottura has become a leading figure among a new generation of Italian chefs. His work both as an innovator and restaurateur confirm him as one of the world’s most creative culinary forces. His two restaurants, the 3 Michelin star Osteria Francescana and recently-opened offshoot brasserie Franceschetta58, are both situated in Modena, in the culinary-rich Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.
Since Bottura opened Osteria Francescana in 1995, the 11 table restaurant has been no stranger to critical acclaim. It was awarded its first Michelin star in 2002 and the second four years later. Since then the restaurant has engaged in a profound exploration of territory and tradition which expresses itself in the absolute concentration of flavours guided by conceptual premises.
“Inspiration seems to come when I am relaxed: listening to music, watching a film, on vacation, or driving the car. It is like a flash, where all my thinking finally comes together in the shape of a plate.” Massimo Bottura
Bottura’s food not only combines cooking techniques with the best local ingredients, but with his deepest reflections on culture, music, art and philosophy. Dishes such as ‘Tribute to Monk’ are conceptual plates based on a mediation about the artist and about listening and tasting in the dark. An all black plate of black cod cooked with aromatic ashes in a deep black Katsuobushi squid ink broth, the plate is a clash of traditions and concepts.
At Osteria Francescana, tradition is seen from ten kilometres away. Rules are not broken, but bent. “In the kitchen there is no room for improvisation of technique, but there is still room to see things from another
perspective- tradition in evolution. Our traditions root us in a place, culture and time, but they must never be stagnant. Traditional food is the result of a successful experiment. We must continue to evolve our palates, our techniques, and remain flexible in the kitchen to new ideas, ingredients and concepts. Only then can we project ourselves into the future and allow our own gastronomic evolution to follow” explains Chef Bottura.
This intelligent evolution of Italian traditions can be seen in plates such as “Five textures and temperatures of Parmigiano Reggiano”, and “Osso buco with rice, always al dente” where the rules have been bent and come full circle to remind diners of Italy’s rich gastronomic heritage. ‘Compression of Pasta and Beans’ is a mediation on tradition. Bottura takes a humble peasant dish like Pasta e Fagioli and turns it into a parfait with layers beginning with crème royale alla Robuchon, followed by radicchio rosso with pancetta, cream of beans, Parmigiano crust cut thin like pasta and finally a foam of rosemary.
In November 2011, the highest honour from The Michelin Guide was given to Osteria Francescana, promoting it to 3 stars- the first restaurant in the Emilia Romagna region to be so awarded.
“If the understated sophistication of the dining room recalls elegant Franciscan simplicity, all traces of an osteria have become a distant memory through the intellectual creations of the chef, the prophet of an avant-garde and conceptually innovative kitchen who evokes childhood memories and Modenese flavours.” Italian Michelin Guide
Over the past 12 months Osteria Francescana has been unanimously ranked top by L’espresso, Gambero Rosso, and the Touring Club guide. Currently resting at 4th position on the S.Pellegrino World`s 50 Best Restaurants listing and voted the best restaurant in Italy for the past 3 years, the restaurant is also the current holder of the S. Pellegrino World`s 50 Best Restaurants "Chef`s Choice" award, voted for by the rarefied group of chefs from the top 50 establishments. The restaurant’s 3 Michelin stars now sit comfortably alongside the "Grand Prix de l`Art" award from the International Culinary Academy in Paris.
“I always advise young chefs to believe in their dreams. Impossible is Nothing.” Massimo Bottura