With more than 20 years of experience, Bottura’s passion for cooking started when he was very young thanks to his grandmother Andella. He says his inspiration comes from art, music, “slow food” and Racing cars.
In 1995 Bottura opened Osteria Francescana in the medieval center of the city of Modena. Today it is a three-star Michelin restaurant that has been ranked in the top 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards since 2010 and is now considered as ¨The Best of the Best¨.
Bottura had the courage to challenge the tradition of Italian cuisine by renewing it and making it his own. At first it did not have the expected success, as the Italians saw its cuisine as an aberration to the usual dishes of their grandmothers’ kitchens. It wasn’t until 2001, when he received his first Michelin Star, that his compatriots began to recognize the dedication in each dish of Osteria Francescana.
His professional and personal career is marked by his wife, Lara Gilmore, who helped him to renew his cuisine by introducing him to the world of contemporary art and aesthetics.
Another turning point in his career was the creation of the Risotto Cacio e Pepe, a recipe that emerged in the wake of the earthquake that struck the Modena region. 360,000 wheels of cheese were destroyed in the catastrophe and something urgently needed to be done if the cheesemakers were to avoid going bankrupt. The Parmigiano Reggiano consortium got in touch with Bottura in search of a solution. This is when Bottura created his Parmesan-based recipe, which immediately took the world by storm, encouraging more than 40,000 people to cook the risotto and thereby saving the production of the most iconic cheese in Italian cuisine.
During the Milan Expo of 2015 Bottura opened Reffettorio Ambrosiano, a community kitchen and eating venue. Bottura transformed an abandoned theatre into a space where visitors could nourish their “body and soul” courtesy of Italian artists and designers. Bottura invited more than 60 chefs of the stature of René Redzepi, Alain Ducasse, Alex Atala, Daniel Humm, Ana Ros, Gaston Acurio and Mario Batali, with each one having to prepare a three-course menu from supermarket leftovers received each morning.
Massimo Bottura has used his position as one of the world’s top chefs and one of Time’s 100 most influential people (2019) to create Food for Soul, a non-profit-making organisation set up to fight against food waste in the world through social inclusion.