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Watch Massimo Bottura and Wylie Dufresne Discuss Nostalgia, Inspiration, and Ego

Two great chefs reminisced at New York City's 92Y in a discussion hosted by Anya von Bremzen.

Earlier this week, Travel+Leisure contributing editor Anya von Bremzen hosted a discussion between chefs Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy) and Wylie Dufresne (wd~50, NYC) at New York City's 92nd Street Y. The trio discussed a wide variety of topics, touching upon geographical inspiration and iconic dishes, failure and ego, what it means to cook in America and how to play with your food.

Dufresne is clearly in a contemplative mood, as he's on the cusp of closing his long-times success wd~50. On creating food that requires cognitive engagement from the diner, the American chef remembered how early critics regarded his cooking: "Tim Zagat said to me, 'You know in six months you're going to be serving a salad.' And 11 and a half years later I'm still not serving a salad... those were conscious decisions on my part to maybe seek a... more unusual route."

Bottura, on the other hand, has just published a book and is thinking ahead, thinking about his past "not in a nostalgic way but in a critical way." His inspiration has always come from his love of culture: "Books, music, art are the highest point in our culture... of course, the team is amazing and the most important thing, but you have to acculturate them, and what I do... every couple of weeks, I give work, to the people in the kitchen..." The chef regularly asks his cooks what they know of, for example, Russian constructivism. Recently, when no one knew anything about it, he told them to write two pages on the subject.

On chef Ferran Adrià's plan for an elBulli educational center, Dufresne is excited to see what comes of it. Bottura can't really comment: "Personally when I have to talk about Ferran I just say, 'Yes, yes,' and that's it because when you talk to Ferran he doesn't listen to you."

Will Massimo Bottura open a restaurant in New York? He was recently working on one in Barcelona, and has just opened one in Istanbul. But as for New York, "My wife is from New York and our parents are here and that would be something fantastic for me... but in the future. Because if you open in New York you have to be in New York."

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