Massimo Bottura and Viviana Varese create kitchen alchemy
The Italian chefs turn trash-bound ingredients into beautiful food in Massimo’s new Bread is Gold book
When Massimo Bottura first hatched the idea of opening a gourmet soup kitchen, he was eating at Alice restaurant in Milan, which had been opened in 2007 by the chef Viviana Varese. She was a natural choice to cook at Bottura’s Refettorio Ambrosiano, not just for the quality of her cooking but her generosity of character. “To me food means to feed,” she says in our new book Bread is Gold. “It’s like a mission; my aim in life is to feed - through food, through love.”
Varese resolved not to bring her fancier gourmet cuisine to the table but to provide recipes that would “recreate a memory of home” for the diners. For her, that meant recreating dishes her mother had first taught her, including a pasta bake made primarily from zucchini (courgettes) and eggplant (aubergine).
She also recalled how, in her household, nothing went to waste. Any leftover pasta from the night before was used as a pizza condiment the day after - both thrifty and ingeniously tasty, in keeping with the Refettorio ethos. Still more so was the meatloaf sauce she made, using a loaf of stale bread. Soaked in milk, garlic, onion, turmeric, salt and pepper, it was transformed into a heavenly cream, fit for the family table, and the wider, though no less caring, group of diners who gather at Massimo's Refettorio.
Check back soon for further tails of gastronomic alchemy courtesy of Massimo and his fellow world-famous chefs; and to recreate the recipes and learn more about the ideas behind the Refettorio order a copy of Bread is Gold here.