Massimo Bottura: Making the most of everything
Bread is Gold is a cookbook that takes a holistic look at the subject of food waste with recipes from 45 of the world’s top chefs that turn everyday ingredients into inspiring dishes that are delicious, economical and easy to make.
Author Massimo Boturra, who has this year regained the number 1 spot in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants that he held in 2016, is chef-patron of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and the creator of Refettorios. These Refettorios (which loosely translates as dining hall) are soup kitchens that use excess food from supermarkets and local suppliers to provide healthy, seasonal meals for people in need. The original Refettorio Ambrosiano was created for Milan’s six-month-long 2015 Expo that had a food-focused theme of “feeding the plant, energy for life”.
Massimo felt the question of how to feed the planet needed to be answered. He created the Refettorio in an abandoned theatre and invited chef friends to cook using waste from the expo, for people in need.
Massimo says, “We put words aside and took action. We learned that limitations inspire creativity. When putting food on the table is a challenge, miracles happen in the kitchen. We gave food a voice, gave waste a place, and nourished a community."
The Refettorio Ambrosiano has been serving guests five days a week ever since, and Massimo and his wife Laura have founded a non-profit association called Food for the Soul to make places like these accessible to more people around the world.
These three recipes show a little of what was cooked at the original Refetterio Ambrosiano – a Milan soup kitchen feeding healthy meals to those in need from excess food from supermarkets and local suppliers.
Massimo says: "Once a week at the Refettorio I would take on the task of cleaning out the refrigerator. I found it incredibly satisfying to turn all the leftovers of the previous chefs into something edible and useful. A process I called the Exercise of Everything. I called it an exercise because it wasn’t just throwing things into a pot; I had to think about which ingredients would taste good together and how to bring out the most flavour. When Ferran asked what the ragu that he found in the fridge was made of, I answered everything."
Ferran Adria used this ragu for a main course dish served with mashed potato (with lots of butter and parmigiana-reggiano) and green beans. Place a spoonful of the hot ragu in each bowl, top with a spoonful of mashed potato and garnish with cooked green beans. In New Zealand, it may be more economical to replace turkey with chicken and pancetta and speck with bacon. Canned tomatoes instead of fresh in winter. Recipe by Ferran & Albert Adria.
Migas is a Spanish recipe made with finely minced bread and it is dressed according to the region of Spain. It is a humble dish that was traditionally made with whatever people had on hand. Andoni Luis Aduriz added beef which is not at all traditional but that was what was in supply that day.
Massimo says: "Here was the Andoni I knew: the poet, the intellect, the historian naturalist had found this kitchen, with its random ingredients — the beautiful and the ugly, the fresh and the not so fresh — a foreign landscape to explore with enthusiasm. In that moment it was clear why having chefs like Andoni was so important to the project."
Massimo says: "Oriol Balaguer’s dessert is the perfect solution for covering up imperfect fruit like this day’s grapes, and it makes you happy just looking at it. The lollipops reminded us of how easy it is to create so much joy with so little because no matter where you come from, sweets connect you to your childhood."
All profits from Bread is Gold (Hachette NZ RRP$65) are donated to non-profit organisation Food for Soul to create and sustain community kitchens around the world.