Having opened Casa Maria Luigia a few weeks ago, Massimo Bottura is already looking towards future projects. That’s him, constantly thinking about the future, about next projects.
He is already in discussions to open more soup kitchens in Mexico, and with the help of Goldman Sachs, Amazon and Salesforce, New York, Seattle and San Francisco. He is even considering one in Bethlehem.
But before the start of the Al Meni festival in Rimini last weekend, he took the time to share what his wife Lara Gilmore and he have learned from the opening of their inn on the outskirts of Modena. The inn, named after Massimo’s mother opened a few weeks ago.
Massimo and Lara of the acclaimed Osteria Francescana in Modena have taken what they have learnt from their flagship 3 Michelin star restaurant and their Food for Soul project (which aims to feed the poor through the opening of soup kitchens in different cities around the world) to their new project. Casa Maria Luigia brings the world of hospitality and fine dining together.
“We have created a place where you can feel at home away from home, where we have tried to create an experience from what we have learnt travelling. We have eliminated what bothers us in hotels and by making sure people have what they need when they visit. No one is going to come and knock at your room for room service, no one is going to bother you. If you want to snack at 2am you can go in the kitchen, open the refrigerator and find a snack with products from the region. If you want to sip whiskey before you go to sleep, you can go to the whiskey room and pour yourself a last glass of whiskey, if you want to hear a rare recording you can go to the music record and play a record. For me, having a coffee first thing in the morning is essential. I need one before I can talk to people so I need a coffee machine and an espresso before I can communicate.”
He said that when they conceived the Refettorio or soup kitchens they wanted to take a part of Osteria Francescana there. “We brought the mentality of my grandmother. She wanted us to stay at table and not leave unless we ate everything. Through the soup kitchens which we are opening in different cities around the world we have learnt that we can bring to a shared table different people from migrants to refugees, drug addicts and the elderly and they become like one family,” he said.
“Day after day, we realise the power food has as a tool for change. Food can give people a second chance in life. What we have learnt at the refettorio we are now bringing back to fine dining and we are creating a second revolution,” the Italian chef said.
The Italian chef who is considered to be one of the most creative chefs in the world today said guests at Maria Luigia are eating together at a shared table.”We have a loft with an open kitchen and people are surrounding us while we prepare their food. We are serving the most iconic dishes from Osteria Francescana.”
People from all corners of the world sit around the same table to communicate around food.
Bottura said that one week ago they served a table of 8. Two were super liberals from Boston, two were Republican from Texas and the other four were gay men from Denver, Colorada. “They were sitting at the same table and at the beginning it was very stiff because they did not know each other. By 11pm, the experience had changed to the extent that they made a reservation for the following year. That is the power of food. It brings people together, and by not using their cellular phone at table you can talk and create a bond. We learnt this at Refettorio and the energy we’ve seen over the past few weeks has been incredible,” he said.
Casa Maria Luigia is a 12 room inn in Modena which Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore opened a few weeks ago. The house, in the middle of the Reggio Emilia countryside, is just 20 minutes away from the Osteria Francescana, one of the world’s most famous restaurants and currently no 1 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list
The inn has been being designed according to their tastes. The house, named after Massimo’s mother has a tennis court, a swimming pool, a music room and serves breakfast and a light lunch. What will make the place special is the collection of art books and records that will be made available for guests.
Apart from the Osteria Franscescana and Franceschetta in Modena, Bottura and Gilmore are also the founders of the Food for Soul foundation which aims to serve food to the poor using food that would otherwise go to waste. Massimo Bottura also has a collaboration with Gucci which includes a restaurant in Florence and one which is set to open in the United States.