Michelin Star Chef Massimo Bottura On How An Accidental Dish 'Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart' Became A Global Favourite!

Chef Massimo Bottura, the famous Italian chef renowned for his innovative approach to Italian cuisine recently brought the legacy of Osteria Francescana to The Leela Palace in New Delhi, partnering with Culinary Culture. Read to know the story behind his iconic lemon tart and more...
?Massimo Bottura

Massimo Bottura, Italian restaurateur and chef

Most of you mst be aware of Chef Massimo Bottura who stands as one of culinary world's biggest ‘Maestro’. His renowned Osteria Francescana (don’t miss that there is an over six-month waiting period), in Modena, Italy has maintained three Michelin stars for an extended period, and it proudly clinched the top spot on the prestigious World's Best Restaurants list twice. So much so that after its second win, the organizers revised the rules, preventing former winners from re-entering the competition—a testament to Osteria Francescana's unparalleled excellence. Also not many may know that Chef Massimo Bottura is the visionary behind Food for Soul, a non-profit organization dedicated to tackling food waste and fostering social inclusion through the establishment of community kitchens.
In a special culinary event at Le Cirque, The Leela Palace New Delhi, on 19th and 20th April, hosted by CulinaryCulture saw Chef Massimo Bottura delighting guests with an exclusive opportunity to savour some of Bottura's iconic dishes, including 'Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart,' 'The Crunchy Part of the Lasagne,' and 'Psychedelic Cod Not Flame Grilled,' among others.
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Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart
Tale of 'Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart'
The tale behind 'Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart' is a testament to ingenuity; born from a mishap in the kitchen, this dessert-turned-legend illustrates how a culinary setback can transform into a celebrated masterpiece. Emerged from a mishap in Chef Massimo Bottura's kitchen when his sous chef, Taka Kondo, inadvertently dropped a lemon tart before it reached the table. Bottura, embracing the essence of human error, viewed the incident as an opportunity and said to him “Taka, no! It is so beautiful! Don’t you see? This is just perfect!”. He believes that mistakes carry a unique beauty and decided to transform this mishap into something remarkable. The dish, featured as part of a seven-course menu, exemplifies Bottura's philosophy of "rebuilding in a perfect way the imperfections," where each element is meticulously crafted to transcend the initial accident.
Massimo on how culture, family recipes and holding to roots is the most important…
Reflecting on his journey of earning three Michelin stars and elevating Osteria Francescana to the pinnacle of culinary excellence, emphasizes the importance of shaping the future. His advice to fellow chefs is simple yet profound: "Keep pushing and keep dreaming and never be afraid to commit mistakes”.
Furthermore he also highlights the significance of cultural awareness for aspiring chefs. He believes that a deep understanding of one's culture and surroundings empowers chefs to unleash their creativity in crafting dishes and recipes.
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Team 'Massimo' in Delhi with Raaj Sanghvi and Anupam Dasgupta
For instance, his renowned recipe, "Cinque età del Parmigiano Reggiano," which celebrates the five ages of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, is a testament to his intimate knowledge of cheese production, processing, and aging techniques in Modena, Italy. He proudly says "Cooking is an act of love and that is the reason I always my mother is better cook than my grandmother as she really enjoyed cooking for everyone”.
The culinary maestro revealed that the his success lies in embracing doubts. He explains, "When you step into the kitchen and confront doubts and then you're compelled to ask questions. It's in the pursuit of answers to these questions that evolution occurs. Don't forget that a chef is much more than a sum of just his recipes".
On attention and innovation
Bottura's accolades have solidified his status as a trailblazer in modernist regional cuisine, often associated with a price tag out of reach for many. However, these achievements have also enabled him to garner widespread support for his humanitarian efforts. Through his innovative approach, he has established drop-in dining halls—sophisticated soup kitchens designed to provide nourishment but also These spaces combine contemporary design, inspired culinary creations, and attentive table service to uplift thousands of individuals in need.
As a firm beliver of 'no-waste' philoshopy, Massimo adds "cooking is just not only about the quality ingredients but about the quality of the dish that we create". His revolutionary approach to local ingredients is absolutely worth appreciating.
No to miss that the famous Osteria Francescana also sees a vegetarian menu for which Bottura received a lot of accolades from vegetarians.
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