Massimo Bottura, the world renowned and influential chef behind the “world’s best restaurant”, Osteria Francescana, has become one of the most passionate voices on the topic of food waste and social inclusion in recent years. Following the success of Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef (2014), Bottura has released a second book: Bread is Gold: Extraordinary Meals with Ordinary Ingredients. This timely volume will provide tips and inspire home cooks to transform would-be discarded ingredients from their own kitchens into delicious meals.
In 2015, Bottura established Refettorio Ambrosiano, a community soup kitchen, to coincide with the Milan Expo. The dynamic Bottura asked leading Italian designers and artists to help him turn an abandoned theater into an inviting space where guests could feed both their body and soul. He also invited over 60 of his chef friends to visit and cook at the Refettorio throughout the run of the Expo.
Bread is Gold documents the first six months at the Refettorio and includes contributions from these guest chefs, some of the best in the world, like René Redzepi, Alain Ducasse, Alex Atala, Daniel Humm, Ana Roš, Gastón Acurio, and Mario Batali. Each visiting chef prepared three-course meals out of supermarket surplus ingredients delivered every morning to Refettorio Ambrosiano. The book highlights their contributions with a text by Bottura and reportage photographs of everyday life at the Refettorio in 2015.
Readers will learn how to make the title dish that represents the entire spirit of the project; Bread is Gold, Bottura’s ode to his grandmother, is a recipe made of bread crumbs, warm milk, and sugar. They will also learn how to make popcorn pesto as created by Redzepi, Teriyaki burgers by Yoshihiro Narisawa, rice pudding by Ferran & Albert Adrià and much more. Most importantly, as Bottura points out, readers will learn to be resourceful home cooks, “improvise, experiment, and cook with urgency” because this book is meant to be, “a guide and a starting point for cooking out of your pantry and refrigerator.”
Photo Credit: The Felix Project
One-third of all the food produced globally is wasted every year. Bottura writes in the introduction that he wanted to bring in professional chefs, “to prove that salvaged food, overripe or bruised and beyond expiration dates, as well as scraps and trimmings that otherwise would be thrown away, were not only edible but even delicious.” He continues by stating, “cooking with ingredients that otherwise would have been thrown away draws out the resourcefulness of a cook, and cook.”
In 2016, following his rewarding experience at the Refettorio, Bottura founded Food for Soul, a nonprofit that seeks to get food waste in support of social inclusion and individual well-being. The release of Bread is Gold will raise awareness of food waste, will encourage experimentation, and will demystify cooking with humble ingredients for the home cook.
Learn more about Bread is Gold, including where to purchase, at the website.