Recipes from the Chefs
Massimo Bottura’s Kitchen Quarantine: Cooking Inspiration Live on Instagram
Piazzas are silent and streets empty. Today there are no busy markets or friends clinking glasses outside a bar. Absent are the groups of friends gathered at restaurants and couples out for an evening stroll. The throngs of tourists have disappeared and the busy chatter of morning patrons lining the bars for an espresso and brioche have evaporated. Italy, one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, is for the moment a very different place, quiet and vacant – or at least it seems so from the outside. For Italy, homelife has always been at the heart of its culture. So, while lockdown may be emptying out the streets, it’s illuminating the homes of Italians from north to south.
Exactly as it has for Michelin-starred super chef Massimo Bottura, who with his talent, energy and ingenuity, has decided to open up the doors to his family’s kitchen in Italy via his Instagram page where he recently launched Kitchen Quarantine, a nightly streaming in which the chef shares the recipes he’s preparing for his family along with some great cooking tips and lots of ideas for using the food we have right in our pantries.
The world-renowned chef hails from the city of Modena and is regarded as one of the most prominent celebrities of modern Italian cuisine. He is also the owner of top-ranked restaurants including Osteria Francescana and Franceschetta 58 in Modena, Gucci Osteria in Florence, Torno Subito in Dubai, and his latest Gucci Osteria in Beverly Hills.
In his words, “Cooking is an act of love!” a love that he knows full-well can help in a moment of need. Back in 2012 when earthquakes devasted the Emiglia-Romagna region, Bottura created a cookathon to help the producers of Parmigiano Reggiano who risked closure and the loss of thousands of wheels of cheese. He is also the founder, along with wife Lara Gilmore, of Food for Soul, a non-profit project that aims to help combat world hunger by reducing food waste while making wholesome foods more accessible for everyone.
Kitchen Quarantine, which airs daily, is a kind of live studio and a chance for families, just like the Botturas, to come together to enjoy learning something new – a way to help lift spirits through the joys of sharing a meal. “This is not a cooking show,” remarked the famous chef, “ It’s just a way to share with people from all over the world… we just want to be part of the world.”
During the episodes, which are filmed mostly in English with a little bit of Italian thrown in for his home country, the Modena native explains recipes step-by-step, gives advice, details the ingredients he’s using and offers some useful suggestions for preventing food waste. Besides giving viewers some great meal inspirations with the delicious food he prepares, Bottura uses his energy and optimistic outlook to spread some much-needed light heartedness, while he reminds his audience to “Stay safe! Wash your hands, always wash your hands!”
Fittingly named Kitchen Quarantine, the show was the idea of the chef’s daughter, Alexa, who, after spending those first few days at home watching her father preparing family meals, thought, “ Hey, I bet a lot of people would like to see this…”And so, Bottura along with his wife and two children decided to create a place to bring the world a little closer. In fact, the episodes are a family project - with Massimo cooking, daughter Alexa filming, son Charlie tasting, and wife Lara asking questions about techniques and ingredients. Even the family dog makes an appearance now and then.
Watching Kitchen Quarantine is like taking a seat with the family in their kitchen. The feeling is relaxed and conversational, with Bottura talking to viewers about his reasons for choosing each dish and explicating each step in the preparation, all while the family chats and the kitchen is abuzz with life.
The first episode opened with the superstar chef announcing, “Today is Friday, so tonight we eat vegetables,” as he prepared a Thai Vegetable Curry. The second evening brought a Warm Bollito Salad – a recipe created to use up leftovers. “We cleaned out our fridge, so tonight it’s… soul kitchen,” said the chef as he introduced the recipe. In fact, one of the main themes of each filming is finding new ways to use what we already have without wasting food and running to the supermarket every couple of days. “Stay home and use everything that you have!” he exclaimed.
On the first Sunday the show aired, viewers were invited to try a bit of local tradition. “Today is Sunday, and in Modena Sunday means tortellini,” Bottura stated as he set off to prepare two family favorites – tortellini in broth and tortellini with cream. The dishes had an even greater significance since the fresh pasta had been made by his son Charlie and other youngsters who are part of the association Tortellanta, a project supported by both Bottura and his wife.
Although episodes can only be viewed live, Alexa and her father also take the time to post answers to viewers’ questions via a daily Instagram Q&A, during which the acclaimed chef and home cook doles out other great tidbits, such as how to make a basic béchamel sauce, while reminding the audience to, “Stay home. Stay safe!” and also to, “Stay positive! Stay positive!”
And maybe it is exactly that irresistible positivity which is the greatest ingredient of all in this moment of uncertainty. The Botturas’ uplifting family spirit, warmth and creativity flow right through screens and into kitchens around the world, reminding us to stay optimistic. “We just want to have fun and show the world with the few things that you have – the table, a few ingredients and a family – we can have fun.”
Kitchen Quarantine airs live every evening on at 8:00 pm CET on Massimo Bottura IGT.Liana Bicchieri