Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart and Five Ages of Parmesan—dishes which almost single-handledly re-invented modern Italian cuisine. Three Michelin stars at Osteria Francescana for ten years running. An iconic appearance on Netflix's Chef's Table. A ground-breaking culinary social enterprise, Food for Soul and its Refettorio social kitchens in cities around the world. Oh, and the World's Best Restaurant not once but twice, in 2016 and 2018.
Achieving all of the above is testament to the talents of Italian maestro Massimo Bottura, who has never been one to take things easy, or to stay put. Instead, his famously legendary energy has recently been channelled into the latest opening of his Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, in the swanky district of Itaewon, Seoul.
See also: 30 Quick Questions with Massimo Bottura
It follows openings in Rodeo Drive, California, and Ginza, Tokyo, after the original launched in Florence back in 2018. Bottura has crafted the menus together with executive chef Hyungkyu Jun and head chef Davide Cardellini, combining creative Italian dishes such as his Emilia Burger with seasonally-driven plates inspired by Korea, such as Seoul Garden.
If there were any doubts as to the appeal of his latest venture, just look at the reservations book—all tables in the 64-seater sold out for the first two months within four minutes of going online.
Here, Bottura tells Tatler Dining exclusively about the Seoul opening, coming through the pandemic and why social impact dining is now more important now than ever.
How will the senses of diners at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Seoul be awakened?
I hope the guests feel special, taken care of, and brought into a very beautiful world where everything matters, even the smallest butterfly. Together, the Gucci family and Francescana family have created a world of references in each of the Gucci Osteria locations. There is the craftsmanship of the design and décor, with elements that one can identify in each location. There is also playfulness and a desire to bring colour and whimsy to Italian dining. And, then, of course, the cuisine is a very poetic interpretation of Italian and Asian flavours coming together in a great ‘eclat’ ,or collision, creating waves of new and reflections of the past. It is a very interesting combination that stimulates the mind, body, and soul.
Which other cities in Asia are under consideration to add to Tokyo and Seoul? We'd love to see you in Hong Kong, Singapore or elsewhere.
I always keep the door open to the unexpected! In my future there is always a future!