Next month, as part of Food Bowl, the exciting new Food Festival from the Los Angeles Times, Chef Massimo Bottura is coming to town and I want to be in the room when it happens. It’s one of the most important dining events to be happening in LA – Bottura, Silverton, Choi, Puck all cooking a dinner together.
I’m so excited to have nabbed a reservation to Massimo’s dinner with Nancy Silverton, Roy Choi and Wolfgang Puck at the Bel Air Hotel, May 3rd. This is going to be one of the hottest reservations of this inaugural food festival – I mean it’s Bottura, Silverton, Choi, Puck. Or put another way – Massimo, Nancy, Roy, Wolfgang. All trailblazers, all creative powerhouses and all chefs who constantly change how we think about food – chef pioneers in the full sense of the word.
Bottura, Silverton, Choi, Puck – connections
The connections between these four chefs stretches over decades, continents and cuisines and have been documented in multi media many times. We all know about Nancy being Puck’s pastry chef at Spago with baby Vanessa, most recently from her episode of Chef’s Table and the article about the Queen of Los Angeles in Lucky Peach where she tells of how as pastry chef at Spago she was afraid to tell Puck she was pregnant:
“He [Puck] said, You bring her to work, and that’s what I did. I had Vanessa on my day off, it was a Thursday or Friday, and on Tuesday I was back to supervise, and she was there with me.”
As Roy wrote about on his blog Nancy was the first chef to hold out her hand to him as Kogi was just starting out. Wolfgang, recently honored by many chefs including Nancy at the James Beard dinner at Lucques, in many ways put Los Angeles on the map in a similar way to Massimo bringing Modena to the world’s attention – albeit decades apart.
The connection for me between Nancy and Massimo is very personal – I was with Nancy last summer when we had the honor of eating at Massimo’s restaurant, which at the time was the World’s #1 restaurant (last month it dropped to #2, pushed out of the top slot by Eleven Madison Park. Getting a reservation to dinner on May 3rd comes in a close second to the greatest reservation to date – lunch at Osteria Francescana last July with Nancy Silverton, Michael Krikorian and Didier Lean Rachou.
Lunch at Osteria Francescana
Time to revisit that most delicious and exciting lunch at Osteria Francescana and let you in a few of the details that led up to dining with Nancy on food cooked by Massimo, shared with our men.
‘Corn on the cob’, caviar made from lentils, oysters with granita, vaporized risotto, crispy bits of the lasagna with the Italian flag, dried layers of seawater, Parmesan cheese 6 ways, and 7 little piggies. We ended with foie gras as an icecream on a stick, the oops I dropped the lemon tart, truffle macarons and a chocolate and cherry dessert that we still have to recreate. Massimo was adamant to recreate from memory and that I will do.
How did the Massimo Bottura/Nancy Silverton lunch come about?
It all began during a charity dinner at Osteria Mozza I produced, hosted by Phil Rosenthal and Nancy Silverton, to raise money for Homeboy Industries. The evening was intimate in the private room and guests who were lucky enough to get a reservation were treated to fun anecdotes from Phil and Nancy.
Nancy created a menu based on the meal she had cooked for I’ll Have What Phil’s Having Italy episode at her house in Umbria. I liked to think of it as the closest you could get to having dinner at Nancy’s house in Umbria without leaving LA.
As people dined pasta sprinkled with breadcrumbs that had people licking their plates and Bistecca Fiorentina with garlic bulbs that had them licking their fingers I had the best time in the warren of rooms that is the kitchen at Mozza following along with Nancy as she checked and double checked all the dishes that were served – both at the dinner and in the restaurant.
Somewhere during that evening Michael Krikorian suggested we all met up at Osteria Francescana, which had just been awarded the World’s #1 Restaurant award. He was given the task of securing the reservation – something that against all odds given it’s recent #1 status, he managed. We arranged for our friends Claudia and Shelly to fly in to Provence to look after Minty and Rémy and off we drove to Modena for lunch – some 700 kms away.
This year I tried to get a reservation at Osteria Francescana for me and Rémy as part of our grand tour of Italy this summer and I totally failed. I went online and found out the time and date the reservations were up for grabs. I waited up until 1am for the reservations for July to come online. Fingers at the ready I hit the reservations button – and this pops up:
Somehow I feel this wasn’t meant to be – and little did I know Massimo would be traveling here from Italy. So next time I dine on Massimo’s food it will also be Nancy’s food and it will be here in Los Angeles. Another trip to Osteria Francescana will have to wait for Michael Krikorian to work his magic and get himself and Nancy to Modena. In the meantime I’m excited for my reservation at the Bel Air that I confirmed yesterday.
I can’t think of a better way to follow up dinner at the World’s # 1 but dining at a dinner cooked by Nancy, Massimo, Roy and Wolfgang at Food Bowl – Bottura, Silverton, Choi, Puck- my one request is that Nancy brings Michael so we can get the gang back together again – Silverton, Krikorian, Lean, Rachou.
Bel Air Hotel, May 3rd – and for that illusive all important reservation, call 310-909-1644.