Chef Mas­simo Bot­tura shares sto­ries and his take on food


On one fine af­ter­noon in march, jakarta was blessed with a visit from one of the world’s culi­nary lu­mi­nar­ies. Chef Mas­simo Bot­tura -who hails from Mo­dena in Italy- graced the kitchen floor of the Ori­ent8 res­tau­rant at the Ho­tel Mu­lia Se­nayan for an un­prece­dented two-night din­ner hosted by the mae­stro him­self. Chef Bot­tura made a name for him­self by gar­ner­ing three pres­ti­gious Miche­lin stars at his flag­ship res­tau­rant Os­te­ria Frances­cana in his home­town of Mo­dena. Not to men­tion that his res­tau­rant con­stantly ranks as the top five restau­rants in the world by the me­dia, pun­dits, and peers alike. So when some­one of Bot­tura’s stature vis­its Jakarta, it was treated as if roy­alty had just ar­rived. As luck would have it, we were for­tu­nate enough to at­tend a spe­cial au­di­ence with Chef Bot­tura as part of a me­dia event prior to the ac­tual din­ner. Af­ter sam­pling around half of the din­ner menu, we were treated to a Q&A ses­sion with Chef Bot­tura. Right from the very be­gin­ning you can see and feel that Chef Bot­tura is a man of pas­sion with a deeply rooted love for the culi­nary world. Un­like some chefs out there, there was hardly a shred of pompous­ness or self-right­eous­ness vis­i­ble from his char­ac­ter. Here’s a man who is con­sid­ered to be one of –if not- the best in the world at what he does and he’s in front of us shar­ing sto­ries about his first en­counter with nasi Padang. We couldn’t re­sist from get­ting to know the man bet­ter and there­fore launched a se­ries of ques­tions aimed to shed a light on what makes him tick. Chef Bot­tura con­sid­ered him­self an ar­ti­san first and fore­most. “Some­one who makes beau­ti­ful ob­jects is an ar­ti­san,” he says. This lit­tle piece of in­for­ma­tion is sup­ported by the way he plates his dishes are more sim­i­lar to in­di­vid­ual pieces of art rather than a plate of food. One of his most fa­mous dishes –aptly named Psy­che­delic Veal Not Flame Grilled- was par­tially in­spired by renowned artist Damien Hirst. Chef Bot­tura claims that the food he serves is a re­flec­tion of his pas­sion, which he likens to hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with an au­di­ence. “My di­a­logue is not with your mind,” he says. “I can talk or elab­o­rate about the in­gre­di­ents, but my di­a­logue is with your palate.” Be­ing a man who was brought up in a rich cul­tural sur­round­ing with tight fa­mil­ial ties, Chef Bot­tura can never the dis­count the im­por­tance of one’s own up­bring­ing. “Cul­ture is the most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent for chefs be­cause it brings knowl­edge,” he says. “You don’t cook to show how good you are, rather we use cul­ture to ex­press the in­gre­di­ents.” It was ev­i­dent that this whole no­tion plays a sig­nif­i­cant part of his ethos in the kitchen. Due to his ex­peri-

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