TORONTO —Toronto’s culinary world became a little brighter this week when Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura came to town. Bottura, who runs the three-star Michelin-rated restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, is rated as having the third-best restaurant in the world on San Pellegrino‘s prestigious “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list.
The renowned chef was in town to take part in George Brown College’s (GBC) Culinary Cities of the World, an exclusive series of events running until tomorrow, March 6, including a salute to the food and wine of the cities in the Emilia Romagna region in Northern Italy.
The charming and cerebral 52-year-old wowed the city during a week-long stay that featured a culinary demonstration for students of the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at George Brown, a Q&A in front of a live audience with Toronto Sun’s Rita De Montis, and a special dinner commemorating the 10-year anniversary of George Brown’s affiliation with Alma, the cooking school located in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region.
Speaking to a crowd of students and food aficionados at the Q&A, Bottura urged students to create with passion, to get a grounding of the classics and to “travel a lot. You need to get contaminated in a lot of cultures,” he said. “Travel like a sponge and absorb all parts of it.” He also told the crowd that while Italian cuisine looks simple, cooking simply is challenging. “It’s all about the quality of ingredients and the quality of ideas. It’s also important to see all the layers of the history of a certain food. Lasagna and pizza, for example, have evolved through the centuries.”
As part of the celebration, later this afternoon eight post-graduate culinary students from GBC’s Culinary Arts program will participate in a cooking contest to create Italian-inspired recipes, with the winner receiving a three-month stage at Osteria Francescana in Modena (including the cost of airfare and accommodations). Tonight, foodies will taste a selection of Italian cuisine, prepared by some of the city’s leading Italian chefs, and presented in a walk-around food market at GBC
Tomorrow night, March 6, Bottura will be the featured chef during a special six-course fundraising gala dinner called Under the Stars (Sotto una buona stella), presented in collaboration with Toronto’s celebrated chef, Rob Gentile, at Buca Osteria & Bar in Yorkville. “In the year of Expo Milan 2015, we are excited to bring Italy’s top chefs to Toronto, and I’m very happy to partner with the King Street Food Company on this initiative,” said Giuseppe Pastorelli, consul general of Italy in Toronto. “Sotto una buona stella will give Torontonians a greater understanding and appreciation of the stellar quality and diversity of Italy’s world-class cuisine.”
Sotto una buona stella showcases and celebrates Italy’s rich culinary history. The initiative coincides with Expo Milan 2015 and will bring six of Italy’s top chefs with Michelin-star rating to Toronto over the course of the next two years. Proceeds from the upcoming Bottura dinner tomorrow will benefit George Brown’s Culinary Program.
See F&H’s April issue for an in-depth profile on Massimo Bottura.