Massimo Bottura surprises Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle diners at Hedone
The world’s most famous chef surprised 30 lucky diners last night at Hedone in Chiswick. Part of the Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle, a global event that saw over 60 chefs swapping their kitchens with fellow international cooks on 10th November, the event dinner featured the man behind Osteria Francescana, voted the world’s best restaurant last June at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in New York.
A special ten-course menu showcased several of Bottura’s iconic dishes – including Lentils Almost Better than Beluga, The Crunchy Part of the Lasagna and Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart – to the delight of the guests. The chef talked and interacted with the diners throughout the evening, explaining the conceptual drive behind his creations. It was clear how contemporary art as well as the traditional sayings and memories of his grandparents influenced his ideas and cooking style. Meanwhile, the chef of Hedone (Mikael Jonsson) had just wrapped up the service in Australia at Restaurant Orana.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the dinner started with a bang. The eel skins treated like sardines, the lentils dressed up as caviar and the burnt lemon sole were beyond reason.
The chef hailing from Modena, Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s food capitals, isn’t obsessed with the visual aspect, that’s just the last step in the creative process. The scallop dish, a tribute to the 2004 Gelinaz! course inspired by Fulvio Pierangelini, featured three main ingredients in two forms: the apple, scallop and mortadella aren’t just the solid part but also the liquid. Bottura dehydrated them and added boiled water to present them in (exquisite) broth form.
As a long-standing diner of Osteria Francescana, I was impressed how close some of the flavours were to what is cooked at the actual restaurant. There was a reason, everything cooked at Hedone came straight from Modena, same-day, in large suitcases.
The Sometimes Mallard, Sometimes Partridge and Even Bollito was last night’s winner. This time, chef Bottura said, it was mallard (he added we should keep an open mind to the unexpected…next time it could be partridge) and filled with bollito (boiled meat), an element that was highlighted with a joke: “Bollito is a traditional dish, I respect tradition, but it’s not boiled. It’s avant-garde, I look at the past critically. Why do I need to boil meat in the water? Because a thousand years of history taught me that? No, boiling water is what I use to clean my jacket when have to get it white! Meat has to be preserved, and the work of the farmers too.”
After a revisitation of the caesar salad as a pre-dessert, the Italian superstar served one of his most iconic creations, Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart. It was sous chef Kondo “Taka” Takahiko who dropped one of three tarts one day during service and, noticing its beauty, Bottura ended up breaking them all.
This fun fine-dining event ended when a delivery of live crabs reached the kitchen. The giant crustaceans caused an explosion of curiosity across the restaurant, and the night concluded with laughs while staring at the beautiful creatures.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Watch Massimo Bottura cooking and explaining his dishes at Hedone here: