Chef Massimo Bottura Celebrates Italian Culinary Forum Identità Golose In Los Angeles

_DBS6171 Massimo Bottura
Chef Massimo Bottura

Photo Credit: Brambilla – Serrani

Chef, restaurateur and culinary personality Massimo Bottura is one of world’s most celebrated culinary talents. His three-Michelin-starred establishment, Osteria Francescana in Modena was ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ 2018 list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (it was also ranked No. 1 in 2016 and No. 2 in 2017).

_DBS6027Photo Credit: Brambilla – Serrani

Massimo Bottura recently brought the prestigious culinary forum known as Identità Golose to Los Angeles for the first time ever. Along with acclaimed chefs Corrado Assenza, Lidia Bastianich, Carlo Cracco, Franco Pepe, Lello Ravagnan, Marco Stabile and the entire Identità Golose team, Massimo Bottura hosted the forum, which encompassed intimate culinary seminars and a grand dinner October 5-6 at Eataly LA, to showcase the very best Italian flavors and techniques.

_DBS6049 Massimo BotturaPhoto Credit: Brambilla – Serrani
With its origins in Italy, Identità Golose has held a stateside forum every year since 2010, however, until 2018 it was Eataly NYC Flatiron that had the sole pleasure of hosting. Massimo Bottura was among the first class of Italian chefs to see Eataly LA host its own West Coast edition in addition to the New York City series this year. His intimate culinary seminar sold out well in advance.

Following the success of the inaugural Identità Golose in Los Angeles, chef Massimo Bottura shared with Haute Living why the culinary forum is so important to him, the experience he tries to create at Osteria Francescana and what he still loves most about cooking.

What makes the forum so special to you?

I have been involved with Identità Golose for a very very very long time. A group of chefs more or less my age were all coming into our own just as Paolo Marchi was beginning to form Identità Golose. This annual conference gave us all a platform to share and discuss, demonstrate and reach out to the public and to our colleagues. This forum has grown over the years and become  a must for anyone in the restaurant business. Every year there are more artisans, farmers, chefs, sommeliers and restaurant owners. And every year there is something new to discover and learn but maybe even more importantly, this gathering is an opportunity for friends and colleagues to share ideas with each other. 

_DBS5980 Massimo BotturaPhoto Credit: Brambilla – Serrani

What do you appreciate about the setting and format of teaching others your craft, such as in the forum’s seminars?

It is always exciting (and a bit of a shock to the nerves) to leave the restaurant in Modena and cook in a unfamiliar kitchen. I embrace these challenges because they bring out the best from my team and me. This kind of exchanges really helps us grow and open our eyes to new ideas, techniques and flavors. We are always very happy to travel for this reason and with every journey, we try to bring back something we didn’t know before. It is also exciting to be cooking for a new audience and I look forward to the exchange during the culinary lesson. One of the reasons I love this job is for the incredible people I have the opportunity to meet at Osteria Francescana every night.

_DBS6150Photo Credit: Brambilla – Serrani

Do you enjoy the information exchange that takes place when events bring together chefs from multiple Italian regions? Do you learn from one another?

Actually, at Osteria Francescana we do not prepare and serve only regional Emilian dishes but our restaurant is in dialog with all of Italy from the extreme north to the south, from the west coast to the east coast and the most remote mountains in between. As true as it is that there are regional recipes, ingredients and traditions that are deeply ingrained in people, there has also been migration from different regions ever since the unification of Italy in the 1860s so recipes and ideas and techniques and ingredients have been traveling around the country for over 150 years. Of course, I am always thrilled to be cooking with fellow Italian chefs, many of whom I know well. There is always something new to be learned and Identità Golose is the perfect opportunity for this as the atmosphere is friendly, open and about sharing culture and ideas.

_DBS6051 Massimo BotturaPhoto Credit: Brambilla – Serrani

What is it about cooking that you still love even after all these years?

My memories play a big role in many of my dishes at Osteria Francescana. I am an Italian chef born and raised in Modena. When I was a kid I would hide under the kitchen table while my grandmother folded tortellini. As the flour fell around me, I would steal the tortellini she was so laboriously making for us when she wasn’t looking. I would pop them into my mouth raw and chew for a very long time until all the flavor was drawn out. Every day at Osteria Francescana we ask ourselves a question: How can we squeeze our culinary memories into edible bites, and make them accessible to our guests who may not share our childhood flavors? This desire to share the true Italian kitchen with guests from around the globe is very exciting but also difficult. Our work is not about forgetting the past but finding the most appropriate way to bring the best of the past into the future — in the year 2018 and beyond.