Massimo Bottura urges young chefs to join food waste fight

The latest seminar from the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy saw Italian masterchef Massimo Bottura issue a stirring rallying cry to members to join him in the global fight against food waste.

Bottura, a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN’s Environment program, has dedicated his recent professional career to spreading the message of surplus food reduction, with around one billion tonnes of food wasted every year globally.

Speaking to Academy members in a special live seminar, Bottura discussed the importance of being awarded a green star by Michelin (the Guide’s mark of sustainability) at three-Michelin-star Osteria Francescana – “If the green star becomes more important than the red star, we create a revolution” – as well as the need to rebrand food waste.

Describing “Cooking as an act of love” Bottura discussed the work of he and wife Lara Gilmore’s non-profit organisation Food for Soul, which tackles food waste and hunger, whilst also promoting social inclusion, through a network of soup kitchens (Refettori) around the world. “We try to set an example,” he said.

The buoyant Italian chef also had this advice for young chefs: “Travel with your eyes and ears open, to learn, but never forget who you are and where you come from.” And when it comes to having an impact, he said, it’s all about collective small gestures. “We all want to find a way to change the world, but if you can find a way to change your neighbour that’s enough.”

Bottura also had many things to say about the future role of the chef, identifying culture as “the most important ingredient for the chef of the future.”

In the second half of the seminar, the first activity to arise from a new global partnership between S.Pellegrino and Food for Soul that aims to drive positive change and educate about sustainable food culture, Bottura answered questions from members on topics such as how to implement a zero-waste policy in a restaurant and the most commonly wasted ingredients.

He also revealed that as part of the partnership, plans were potentially being drawn up for internships and volunteering experiences for Academy members at Food for Soul’s Refettori, with more details to be revealed at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition Grand Finale, 28-30 October 2021 in Milan.

The seminar was the latest activity in the Academy’s educational program, the goal of which is to nurture the next generation of culinary talent whilst connecting them with the most influential figures in global gastronomy. The program is available exclusively to members in the Academy’s private Facebook group, and soon, in a reserved area of the website.

Photo: Refettorio Felix, Credit: Simon Owen Red Photographic