René Redzepi and Massimo Bottura, Milan, June 2015. Image courtesy of Sarah Canet's Instagram

René Redzepi joins Massimo Bottura’s soup kitchen

The Phaidon chef is feeding discarded food to Milan's poor and he's asked his famous friends to help out

Leonardo da Vinci’s fresco The Last Supper might be Milan’s most famous table setting yet, just a few streets away, Massimo Bottura is giving the 15th-century painting a little competition.  

A couple of days ago the Michelin-starred chef, who recently moved up a place to number two on the 50 Best Restaurants list, opened Refettorio Ambrosiano in the former theatre of the San Martino Parish, Milan. This simple eating house forms part of the city’s Expo, and takes in discarded food from the show ground, including overripe fruit, unsold meals, as well as ingredients more closely associated with Bottura, such as the rinds from Parmigiano Reggiano.


Redzepi and Bottura with the staff at Refettorio Ambrosiano. Image courtesy of Bottura's Instagram
Redzepi and Bottura with the staff at Refettorio Ambrosiano. Image courtesy of Bottura's Instagram

Bottura and his staff are cooking with these ingredients, creating dishes of a standard equal to those served in restaurants such as his own Osteria Francescana, and serving the finished dishes to the city’s poor. What’s more he’s calling in favours from his famous friends, including Noma’s René Redzepi, who dropped by Refettorio Ambrosiano two days ago to help out.

The whole venture is being mounted with the help of the local Catholic charity Caritas Ambrosiana. Massimo is characteristically clear about what he's attempting here saying, “we are not doing charity work, we are giving an example".

Indeed, Ambrosiano’s work follows on from Redzepi’s own interests in “trash cooking”, that has seen the Danish chef work skin, guts and scales into his innovative menus, and is a perfect accompaniment to the expo’s theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.

For greater insight into Bottura’s life and work get a copy of Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef, and for more on Redzepi consider these books.