Cooking with Massimo Bottura

Madhvi Ramani
5 min readMar 25, 2020

The three-star Michelin chef says it’s about emotion, imagination, and connecting to your palate.

Massimo Bottura, Masterclass

Since we’re all in quarantine, what better time to experiment in the kitchen?

Massimo Bottura has some amazing recipes such as homemade tortellini in parmigiano cream, pasitelli with a broth that requires the slow overnight oven cooking of vegetable scraps, and an amazing complex layered “spin-painted” beet inspired by the artwork of Damien Hirst.

Be free to experiment, and be free to choose your own flavour. — Masssimo Bottura.

I loved watching Bottura’s passion and sheer Italian-ness in his Modern Italian Cooking Masterclass, but the idea of actually spending hours making smoked olive oil and zero-waste vegetable stock gave way to laziness. Besides, if I roasted vegetable peels for the entire night, I would probably oversleep and burn the building down.

So, I decided instead to make two of Bottura’s simplest recipes, which also work well in times of quarantine, since the ingredients are easy to come by. The first is his evolution of pesto, and the second is his Sogliola al Caroccio (Mediterranean-style sole). Fortunately, I had a real live Italian to test them out on — more on the recipes and his verdict below.

The most interesting aspect of this masterclass is that those same key words from other experts— emotion and intuition — were dominant here too. Like Christina Aguilera, who says that in order to sing well you must do it with emotion, and follow your gut, Bottura instists that cooking is an act of love. It’s all about emotion, trusting and developing your own palate — your own voice, if you will. When people ask him what his favourite tool is in the kitchen, he says it’s his palate. Being a master chef is not about technique, it’s about training what our bodies already know.

Massimo Bottura’s Evolution of Pesto

Two things I love about Bottura is that he’s all about experimentation, critically assessing recipes and developing them according to personal taste, and that he’s mindful about sustainability. His version of pesto is a good example of this — he developed it when he had run out of pine nuts and…