Massimo Bottura encourages culinary world to embrace food scraps

09 December, 2015 by
Aoife Boothroyd

One of the world’s most celebrated culinary personalities, Massimo Bottura is encouraging chefs to cut food waste by embracing typically discarded scraps.

In a recent opinion piece written for The Wall Street Journal, the award-winning Italian chef says that the answer to feeding the world’s 7.3 billion people lies in the food scraps that are often tossed away.

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“When I think about the future of restaurants – what chefs will be cooking in the years to come – the first thing that comes to mind is garbage : day-old bread, potato peels, fish bones and wilted vegetables,” writes Bottura.

“We currently produce enough food to feed the world’s 7.3 billion people, and yet 795 million are hungry according to the United Nations. The reason is waste… this is where chefs come in.”

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Bottura, whose Milan restaurant, Osteria Francescana is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, teamed up with international food show, Expo Milano to raise awareness of food wastage.

Osteria Francescana together with Catholic charity Caritas Ambrosiana and Davide Rampello created the Refettorio Ambrosiano to fit in with the Expo’s theme of “Feeding the Planet ,Energy for Life”.

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Named after Sant’Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint, Refettorio Ambrosiano is a think tank and experimental soup kitchen that runs on salvaged waste and volunteer labor to feed Milan’s homeless community. Since opening in May, some of the world’s best chefs have volunteered their time by working in the kitchen including Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park who made a sweet pudding from day-old, discarded bread; Ren Redzepi of Noma who turned black bananas into banana bread; and Daniel Patterson of Coi who made minestrone from a crate of ‘dismal-looking’ vegetables.

“Chefs have greater social responsibility than ever before,” writes Bottura. “Celebrity status has allowed some of us to become ambassadors of culture and advocates for artisans, ethics and change. But have we spent enough time and energy considering the waste that results from our work? Imagine a school where young chefs are taught to be as resourceful with ingredients as they are with ideas. Imagine chefs embracing imperfect, discarded food and treating it with the same reverence they would a rack of lamb or ripe tomato. Imagine changing the perceptions about what is beautiful, nutritious and worthy of being shared.”