In new cookbook Bread Is Gold, world-famous chef Massimo Bottura and friends create recipes to feed the planet by reducing waste.
Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, regained top spot, and in his acceptance speech he said he would “use the spotlight to show the world that chefs are more than the sum of their recipes”.
But Bottura has already shown that, at the Expo 2015 world fair in Milan. Inspired by the food-focused theme, “Feeding the planet, energy for life”, and after input from designers, artists and Catholic charity Caritas Ambrosiana, he opened pop-up restaurant Refettorio Ambrosiano – from the Latin “reficere”, to rebuild and restore – in a rundown part of the city. Surplus food from the expo was delivered daily to feed lunch to local children and dinner to the homeless. International chefs who attended the expo were invited to give up a day to cook in the Refettorio Ambrosiano kitchens.
Bottura’s project was a resounding success, leading to similar initiatives in Rio de Janeiro, London and Paris. He wrote a book, Bread is Gold: Extraordinary Meals with Ordinary Ingredients (Massimo Bottura & Friends, Hachette $65), filled with recipes from high-profile chefs who volunteered to work at the restaurant.
I was thrilled to see New Zealand-born chef Jessica Murphy in the book. She runs Kai, a café and restaurant on the coast of Galway, Ireland, with her husband. Murphy has cooked in the Milan and London Refettorio restaurants and says Bottura is “a real honey” and that she is “really chuffed to be in the book”.
Murphy was named Best Chef in Ireland 2018 by the Restaurants Association of Ireland in May. It’s an impressive achievement for the chef from Wairoa in Hawke’s Bay but she says, “When you come from there it certainly sets you up for the big wide world over here.”
The surplus food from the expo was often bread, overripe bananas and minced beef (hamburger patties), and many of the book’s recipes make use of these ingredients. Who thinks of using banana peels? How many ways can stale bread be used? Who throws away cheese rinds?
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 red onions, diced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 malagueta or habanero chilies, chopped
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2½ tsp coriander seeds
1½ tsp whole cloves
1½ tsp cardamom pods
2 star anise
peel from 5 overripe bananas, finely diced
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp packed light brown sugar
juice of 2 oranges, plus more if needed
50g whole green grapes
juice of 2 limes
In a saucepan, heat the mustard seeds over medium heat until they start to pop. Add the butter, oil and onions and sauté until golden, then add the ginger, chilies, and spices and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the banana peels, salt, brown sugar and orange juice and cook for 15 minutes, or until a thick chutney consistency is obtained. Add the grapes and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and add more orange juice or filtered water if necessary to obtain a jammy consistency. Season to taste with salt and sweeten with sugar if necessary. Add the lime juice and stir. Transfer to a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Makes about 1¾ cups (600g)
Alice Delcourt’s Minestrone
2 litres water
700g parmesan cheese rinds
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary
3 sage leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 carrots, diced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200g conchiglioni or other small shell pasta
200g stale bread, diced
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
10 basil leaves, finely sliced
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, cheese rinds, thyme, rosemary and sage and bring to a boil over medium heat. Immediately reduce the heat and gently simmer for 1 hour. Remove the rinds and strain the broth through a colander, then set aside at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 175°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, fennel and potatoes and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 5 seconds, then season with salt. Add the parmigiano broth and boil for 6 minutes. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Place the bread on the baking sheet and lightly toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, then toss with the basil. To serve, ladle the soup into soup bowls, garnish with the toasted bread and sprinkle with salt.
Wine match: light Italian red
This article was first published in the August 11, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.