Massimo Bottura and Mark Moriarty create kitchen alchemy
What happened when a young Irish chef came to the Refettorio, updated a classic dish and named it after himself?
The Irish chef Mark Moriarty is among the youngest to have cooked at Massimo's Refettorio, and, at times it showed. When he forgot the recipe to traditional Irish soda bread, Massimo remembers, Moriarty called his mum to check the ingredients. However, at other points Moriarty displayed culinary skills beyond his years.
As Massimo explains in his new book Bread is Gold, Moriarty had come to Milan to take part in - and eventually win - the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition. Following Moriarty's success, Massimo invited him to cook at Refettorio Ambrosiano, the haute cuisine soup kitchen where Massimo and his famous chef friends turn bin-bound ingredients into healthy, tasty meals for the city's poor.
Although Moriarty was only 23 years old when he came to the Refettorio, he had, during his brief career, made a point of cooking in a wide variety of restaurants around the world, and already had sufficient southern European knowledge to put together a tasty gazpacho from a range of Mediterranean vegetables. However, his most audacious step was to rewrite an Italian classic, and name it after himself.
"He came up with an eggless carbonara," recalls Massimo in Bread is Gold, "which he playfully called 'Marconara.'" Badly cooked pasta is one of Massimo's pet peeves, so how did Mark's version go down? Surprisingly well. It was, recalls Massimo, "distinctively heartier than the Italian version with the addition of cream, mushrooms and garlic. His intention was to bring to the Refettorio an Italian dish he often makes for friends at home — he thought it would be fun for me to see an Irishman try to cook pasta."
Not only did Massimo approve of this well-travelled young Irishman's take on his national cuisine, Moriarty also managed to impress the Refettorio's guests. "Pasta was always our guests’ favourite part of the meal," Massimo reveals, "and this one went around the room twice."
Fancy a go at Marconara? Then order a copy of Bread is Gold here. In it you'll find 150 recipes from 45 chefs using everyday ingredients to create inspiring dishes that are delicious, economical and - above all easy to make.