Chef’s Table: How Massimo Bottura’s Risotto Cacio e Pepe changed people’s lives

Netflix documentary series Chef’s Table follows various world’s chefs in their culinary journey. The first one is my favourite of the group, Italian Chef Massimo Bottura. He mobilised masses using social media when two earthquakes hit his hometown Modena in May 2012.

The quake damaged 400,000 wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano crushing them into pieces. Concerned that this would damage the producers of the world’s most sold cheese, he spread the word for people to buy the smaller pieces of cheese to save the producers. And he created a dish inspired by this – Risotto Cacio e Pepe (risotto with cheese and pepper) – which he made by creating a broth from Parmigiano Reggiano grated to water over very low heat. Thanks to his campaign, all the Parmigiano was sold and nobody lost their jobs.

Massimo Bottura netflix torta al limone osteria-francescana-15

Massimo Bottura’s classic dessert ‘Oops, I dropped the lemon tart’

At world’s greatest restaurant Osteria Francescana, which he founded with his wife and which now has 3 Michelin stars, Massimo brings something else to the table besides food. This is also the goal of the Michelin rating system. He has arrived to his own formula for what being a three Michelin star is about. For Massimo it’s about the art, the music, it’s about the place, the ingredients. It’s not just about the food. It’s about the whole concept behind the food that makes the eating experience far more interesting.

Massimo Bottura netflix chef recipes

All his dishes are made with Modena ingredients. One of the most important ingredients in his food is memory, everything beautiful in life including memory of tasting things. Massimo takes the memories and he reinvents them in new recipes using all ingredients sourced from the local area.

He is the best interpreter of what Italian Cuisine is all about. Through his food, Massimo Bottura gets people to enjoy and understand Italian culture at its best.

I am certainly biased being Italian, from Massimo’s region, Emilia Romagna and a big passion for food.

The revolutionary approach by Massimo is his humbleness. He learns from his mistakes every day. He likes to tell the story behind his now classic dessert “Oops, I dropped the lemon tart”. One of his sous chefs, Taka, accidentally dropped a lemon tart and Massimo realised he should intentionally serve it like that. He felt that, considering how little space in our everyday life we give to poetry, he could make visible the invisible through his cuisine. And the invisible was a broken lemon tart that Taka just dropped. The point is that the secret of a happy life is to leave a little space open for poetry in which you can jump in and imagine the unimaginable.

A few years ago Modena and Emilia Romagna was struck by a huge earthquake but the local business owners worked together to rebuild everything and to redevelop their businesses. Massimo has been crucial to put his region under the spotlight and reinvent the risotto with Parmesan and Pepper that managed to sell all Parmesan wheels in no time, which after the earthquake were destined to be destroyed.

Massimo Bottura recipe

For Modena, a small city with a big culinary tradition and with inhabitants spoilt-rotten with the amazing cuisine of the area cooked by mums at home, Massimo’s intervention has been vital.

The documentary shows how Massimo has managed to take the traditional recipes and reinvent them into new modern creations that bring you back to that lost childhood through all senses.

I can relate so much to Massimo’s passion for food, when he says that Balsamic Vinegar runs in his veins and his muscles are made of Parmigiano. Such a talk feels so close to my heart … But I guess he expresses that universal passion for good food that Italians naturally have in their genes.

Have a napkin ready while you watch the series as it is mouth-watering…

Here is a little taster:

Chef’s Table? offers viewers the opportunity to go inside the lives and kitchens of six of the world’s most renowned, international culinary talents. Each of the six episodes features an acclaimed chef, who include Ben Shewry (Melbourne, Australia), Magnus Nilsson (Järpen, Sweden), Francis Mallmann (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Niki Nakayama (Los Angeles, CA, USA), Dan Barber (New York City, USA) and of course Massimo Bottura. You can watch all episodes exclusively through Netflix.

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