Best of the best
What does it take to be the absolute best in your industry?
You might want to ask Massimo Bottura, the head chef and owner of Modena, Italy’s Osteria Francescana, which was named the best restaurant in the world this year.
How it’s determined
The title is presented by The World’s Fifty Best Restaurants Awards. Like the Oscars, winners are selected by an elite academy of connoisseurs, but rather than movie buffs, these awards draw upon the expertise of international chefs, restauranteurs, food writers, and world-traveling gourmets.
According to their site, “What constitutes ‘best’ is left to the judgement of these trust and well-traveled gourmets. There is no pre-determined checklist of criteria.”
Without knowing the criteria for the award, we can still guess what brought Osteria Francescana to number one, based on the rave reviews: “After two years in the No. 2 spot, Massimo Bottura’s tranquil restaurant in a Modena back street rightly steps up to take the global crown, reflecting the chef’s ongoing creativity, immense skill, undimmed passion and fierce determination to defy the odds.”
Chef Bottura’s secret
It seems that the secret to Bottura’s success has been his daring yet tasteful remix of Italian traditional cooking. Defying the expectations of culinary conservatives, Bottura has built a career in “reinventing, subverting, and improving” classic recipes.
For example, the restaurant’s popular Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano celebrates Modena’s famous parmesan cheese, but with contemporary twists.
Bottura describes his menu as “Traditional seen from ten miles away.” He says that, in Italy, “You can easily lose yourself into nostalgia. And nostalgia, you don’t avoid, especially in a country with such a deep tradition.” Yet Bottura also draws inspiration from modern music and art. He says “a contemporary Italian chef needs to live in the moment” but “without forgetting the past.”
A lesson for any business
For Bottura, the key to being the best is “Tradition juxtaposed with a dose of irreverence.”
Honoring traditions from the past while reinventing them for the present is a recipe for success for any business.
Osteria Francescana celebrates its twenty-first anniversary this year.