Woolworths TASTE


London’s Refettorio Felix distributes surplus food to the needy. (PHOTOGRAPHS THE FELIX PROJECT AND ANGELO DAL BO)

My favourite meal before going to bed as a child was a cup of warm milk with some breadcrumbs, a little bit of mocha [chocolate], and some sugar.

I grew up in a very social place. Modena is the land of Slow Food and fast cars. It’s also a land of many different small producers, like the Parmigiano-Reggiano producers, who got together and became a very important voice.

Killing a pig is a very spiritual act. This is something my grandmother always said, because the pig is part of the family and it’s giving its life to feed you so you have to be respectful. Growing up like that is something that will stay with you forever. We apply the same principles in the restaurant. We use every single element from the preparation to create amazing food for the staff meal. And we like to eat well, too.

We are not the same restaurant we were two years ago. We have improved. [Two years ago, the restaurant also came in at number one.]

We decided to feed the planet in our own way – fighting food waste. [see Bottura’s Food for Soul project at foodforsoul.it]. This means to make the invisible visible and to show the world that what people think is food waste is just an opportunity.

In 2018 chefs are much more than the sum of their recipes.

The principles that we use in the refettorios [his soup kitchens/canteens] around the world are exactly the same thing we do for our staff meal. You’ve heard the Obamas speak about climate change and food waste and feeding healthy food to the community. Everyone from Pope Francis to the foreign ministers speaks about it. Chefs can have that influence in 2018.

Beauty can be an agent of change. You can rebuild the dignity of people by changing their perspectives of their neighbourhoods. This is why I say we need chefs for this project, but also the artists, architects and designers. We involve all the creative communities to make people feel good; welcome. The revolution can’t function without it.

The last thing I do in the evening, is turn down my music.

The first thing I do in the morning is turn it up. Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, or Billie Holiday – I don’t care, it just has to be good music. I feel the same about art.

Always keep the door open for the unexpected in life.

This way you will experience something – on your palate, in your mind, through your eyes. Keep the door open for the poetry that you can jump into and imagine something different.

The secret of life is to create something, to keep evolving. I’ve always been a person who is open to the world. They’ve killed me many times – or at least they’ve tried. For seven years when I moved from the countryside to downtown Modena, in ’95 when I opened Osteria Francescana and no one was coming to the restaurant, I had to sell everything to pay the bills. But I’m very positive. I've always been like that; even in the darkest moments of my life.

In Brazil, trainee chefs cook free dinners with surplus ingredients at Refettorio Gastromotiva.

I believe in hard work and a little bit of talent. Culture is very important; and a lot of reading. You put these things together and you have destiny.

Inspiration has no single source First, you need to know who you are. When you know yourself, you know what you can achieve.

My breakfast is a double espresso with foamy milk on the side. Proportion is so important – the right amount of milk, the right amount of foam in the cappuccino is everything.

Follow @massimobottura and @IshayGovender on Instagram. Osteria Francescana, 22 Via Stella, Modena, Italy, osteriafrancescana.it