Massimo Bottura in NPR's kitchen. Image courtesy of Beck Harlan/NPR

Massimo Bottura reworks NPR’s Thanksgiving leftovers

The chef turned a pile of turkey into a delicious bowl of passatelli for the station's All Things Considered show

The Thanksgiving leftovers of at the National Public Radio offices in Washington DC took on unexpected Italian accents few days ago, when Massimo Bottura came to town.

Bottura appeared on the station’s All Things Considered show, to talk about his new book, Bread is Gold, a collection of extraordinary meals cooked by himself and other famous chefs from unwanted, bin-bound ingredients at his Milanese, haute-cuisine soup kitchen Refettorio Ambrosiano.

Rather than lecture NPR’s senior editor Maria Godoy about the perils of food waste, Bottura decamped to the station’s cafeteria, to dig out enough left over turkey, bread, and vegetables to prepare a seasonal version of passatelli, a northern Italian dish of breadcrumb-pasta noodles cooked in a meaty broth.


Massimo breaks old bread into breadcrumbs using a food mixer. Maia Stern/NPR
Massimo breaks old bread into breadcrumbs using a food mixer. Maia Stern/NPR

Massimo managed to pull out a an old Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind from the back of NPR’s fridge – the rind was crying out to the chef, he says (“use me, use me, touch my soul!”) – as well as scraps of onion, celery and carrot from the kitchen’s compost bin.

Much of the chef’s recent media coverage has focussed on his work feeding the poor, yet NPR’s piece placed greater emphasis on the consequences of food waste. During Thanksgiving week, Americans will throw out almost 200 million pounds of turkey, NPR explained; food is also the number one contributor to landfills, and as it decomposes, it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Not everyone has the culinary abilities to turn a pile of uneaten food into a series of discrete, healthy dishes, as Massimo acknowledged. “The leftover is a big problem if you don't have a vision, if you don't have the knowledge of what you can do," he said.


Bread is Gold
Bread is Gold

To gain a little vision and knowledge your self  - and to help Massimo feed the world’s hungry – order a copy of his book Bread is Gold here. It includes a great passatelli recipe courtesy of fellow Italian chef Moreno Cedroni, and all sales royalties go towards Bottura’s Food for Soul charity.