For my first RestoReview, I decided to do something a little different from the previous articles: while there is always room to talk about great food, ambiance and service, sometimes the chefs and their philosophy are the most impressive and inspiring. My account of the experience at Franceschetta 58 is not only that of an excellent meal but also of a wonderful day spent observing and learning from a talented and incredibly accomplished chef, Massimo Bottura.
“ Never forget who you are, and where you came from…” is how Chef Massimo Bottura greeted my MBA class, as we all gazed in silence in anticipation of his lecture.
Profound words. Emotional tales of a chef transforming. A husband who admires his wife and muse. The lunch lecture with famed 3-star chef Massimo Bottura came with many surprises. As beacon of passion and dedication to his craft, the ebullient Bottura is still a humble man that has cultivated a vision throughout his career following what he describes as “the crossroads where emotional meets logical.”
A man with close ties to his family described escaping to the kitchen where he found himself under the kitchen table as his aunts and mother prepared meals. This fortress became the portal to which he now sees the world – and how to eat in it. Culture is the motivational force behind his kitchen. The stories and experiences of home and nature have truly inspired the artist that he is today. Its no wonder he is one of the world’s best chefs today.
Knowing everything, and forgetting about everything – is where you find creativity. As a chef, you have a personal narrative using your language of food. This common lingua, metaphorically placed on his menu, explains a journey that Bottura has taken as a chef. Passion as a driving force of tastes and flavors, and ultimately creating something unique to be shared with a common language of culinary excellence…
Bottura’s flagship, Osteria Francescana, three-star-Michelin restaurant in Modena, is also the kitchen of an artistic genius; where the emotional meets the logical, and dishes are prepared with finesse and soul. This is what makes Bottura undoubtedly different from his colleagues. An avid collector of contemporary art and vinyl records, Bottura has incorporated these elements into the Francescana experience – creating vanguard pieces of art. Francescana opened in 1995, and has been focused on celebrating local producers and cooking traditions ever since. In fact, when, Lidia, the woman who taught him how to make tortellini back in 1995, called Bottura during our lecture – it was without question that he answered her call.
After an emotional and telling history of a gourmand and genius, lunch was served at Franceschetta 58, Bottura’s new hot-spot brasserie where guests can enjoy a fabulous lunch for around 15 euros. Franceschetta is described as a place for the younger generation to appreciate quality ingredients at affordable prices. We would agree. The decor is colorful with mismatched dishes on the walls, and patterned tablecloths. The menu is simple but flavorful: comfort food and tradition based on fresh local ingredients. My class feasted on salumi and cheese from Emilia-Romagna, and savored the braised rabbit leg with apple, pancetta and prunes over a bed of polenta. Dessert was a tartlet with meringue and Sicilian pistachios, topped with vanilla gelato. A perfect ending to a more than perfect day with Bottura.
We ended class with “three ingredients for success”: humility, passion, dreams. A recipe we will all remember, and never forget.