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Food Month: i Mag interactive - Read this article in its original version Massimo Bottura is kneading his forehead with slim brown fingers like he’s massaging the ideas in his head into shape. Outside on the cobbled streets, the afternoon quiet is only occasionally broken by the buzz of a passing moped.

In the past week, the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi brought French president FranÇois Hollande to this Modena side street to eat in Osteria Francescana, Bottura’s three-Michelin-star restaurant.

Two days later, Bottura fed young refugees at his Refettorio Ambrosiano project in Milan.

We’ll talk over the next 40 minutes about why two of the world’s most powerful men sat at one of his tables, how he has no beef with Mc Donalds and how he keeps his grandmother in a jar behind his desk.

First, how did it feel to be crowned world’s number two restaurant this summer, with good odds he’ll reach the top slot next year? “I arrived there in my full maturity and not too soon,” he says.

“So no special vibes spin in my head and make me crazy.” Bottura speaks elegant English, as anyone who watched him on Master Chef and in Netflix’s Chef ’s Table knows, pausing to think before he answers sometimes.

The only headscratcher is when he refers to the “attic” of his restaurant. So instead of crazy thoughts, he explains (and this is where the temple-kneading starts) he’s found his food voice and it’s a complex one.“It’s not like foraging the ingredients and going in the kitchen and serving the things. There’s centuries and centuries of tradition to evolve and to bring into the future.” Big pressure then?“Yeah that’s a lot of pressure for an Italian chef.That’s very big pressure for Italian and French chefs. We’re going deep.” Has being a chef at his level gotten more challenging?There’s also a new approach to food that is this: if I ask myself a question and say, ‘what is your cuisine. ’ I think the answer is compressing into edible bites your passion and your memory. But it’s also about Charlie Parker or Thelonious Monk or Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons. Do ‘World’s Best’ chefs have to overthink their food?It’s about my grandmother compressed into Miles Davies and Andy Warhol. That’s what I do.” Crumbs, when did cooking get so cerebral? “The bar has never been higher than it has in the last decade,” he says. like a gold garbage,” he gestures at a gold-plated Oscar the Grouch bin to his right, “is a gold garbage but if you look deep into the garbage you see leftover bread, a banana that is overripe, almost black, and an ugly tomato.

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