Massimo Bottura on the Future of Gastronomy
The culinary maestro is planting seeds to feed people and the planet.
Ethics and aesthetics go hand-in-hand when it comes to future-proofing the hospitality industry and the environment, according to renowned Italian chef and UN Goodwill Ambassador, Massimo Bottura.
The chef patron of Osteria Francescana, co-founder of Food For Soul, and long-time member of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy, believes events like the recent S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition are key to building a sustainable future.
“I’ve been involved [with the Competition] since day one and I’ve seen young cooks grow to become chefs, to become leaders,” he said during an interview at this year’s Grand Finale in Milan. “These events are very important to build the future and shape the minds of young cooks.”
With that in mind, Bottura has announced joint programs between Food for Soul and the Academy to offer members exclusive internships and sustainability courses. This is the latest in a series of sustainability-focused initiatives, including recent Academy seminars where Bottura and his team of chefs discussed sustainable food culture and offered practical tips for reducing food waste.
The official announcement came at the first-ever Brain Food forum, hosted during the Grand Finale, where Bottura spoke passionately about Food for Soul and his quest to tackle food waste and hunger.
“For chefs to experience the way we cook at the Refettorio is like planting seeds in your soul, which can grow and make a better world,” he explained. “Our Refettorio are places in which we fight food waste but also social isolation. Places in which beauty is one of the main parts of the project... When you rebuild the soul of the people, you need beauty and self-confidence.”
Currently, Food for Soul has 13 active Refettori, “physical spaces designed as community hubs”, in the US, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, UK, Italy, France, Australia, Switzerland and many more are going to open. Academy members will soon have the opportunity to volunteer in their kitchens as part of the internship program.
“Food for Soul is bringing culture, knowledge and a sense of responsibility and sharing this with young chefs,” Bottura said. “And they bring the future to Food for Soul.”
Initiatives such as this will also help in achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which include zero hunger, responsible consumption and production, and sustainable cities and communities.
“If we start planting seeds now we will reach the goals for 2030,” Bottura said. “The way we teach these kids to approach the future — a very ethical approach — can make a difference.”
Looking back in order to move forward is also important. “If you want to build the future you have to understand your past,” he explained. “If I look to my past I see my grandmothers saying I can’t leave the table without finishing a dish out of respect for those who don’t have a meal. If you grow up like that, you pay attention [to the issues we are currently facing].”
Bottura also encourages young chefs to embrace their heritage in order to build a sustainable career. “Travel with your ears and your eyes open, but never forget who you are and where you come from,” he said. “Grow slow like a tree because once your roots are very deep, you’re never going to be washed away by the first storm — that is extremely important.”