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The true value of food

Wednesday, 27th June, 2018 4:28pm

It is not that rare that a cookbook excites me, as I am kind of an addict - my heavy shelves at home can attest to that. But when I laid my hands on Massimo Bottura’s ‘Bread is Gold’, I was absolutely over the moon.

Massimo Bottura, once voted best chef in the world by S Pellegrino, established a soup kitchen, called Refettorio Ambrosiano during the 2015 Expo in Milan. His idea was groundbreaking – get all the top chefs who were visiting during the Expo to cook in the kitchen with food donated by local restaurants and caterers of the Expo – food that would have been thrown away otherwise.

The food was meant for homeless people in Milan but Massimo Bottura wanted more – he didn’t call them homeless, he called them guests and waiters were taking orders and treated them like guests in any restaurant.

Chefs who cooked at Refrettorio included, among others, Alain Ducasse, Rene Redzepi, Yannicl Alleno and Ferran and Albert Adria – all multiple Michelin star holders. From Ireland, Jessica Murphy and Mark Moriarty joined the group of legendary chefs.

Each chef who walked into the kitchen had to get their hands stuck in and peel, scrub and chop their way through the donated piles of food and come up with recipes on the spot.

These recipes are collected in the book ‘Bread is Gold’ and they show the talent of each chef. All recipes are based on using everything without waste. That lead to recipes like banana peel chutney (which I have to try), bread tart with caramelized fruit, chilled cauliflower soup, strawberry gazpacho and so many more recipes that sound simply mouthwatering and not like a leftover option.

Mark Moriarty, who won S Pellegrino World’s Best Young Chef a few years ago, made Irish soda bread, roast vegetable gazpacho and something called marconara – where he created a parmesan stock from the rind of the cheese.

Jessica Murphy from Galway created kosheri, a Middle Eastern dish made of lentils, rice, pasta, onions and spices. Meatballs with burnt bread dip showcased how to use stale bread and the dessert - burnt honey and toasted millet ice cream doesn’t sound too bad either.

The book gives a deep look into the workings of not only the soup kitchen but also the chefs who visited Refrettorio.

I love this book and it never made its way onto the bookshelf but sits proudly on my desk.

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