Massimo was born and raised in Modena in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. He developed an interest in cooking from a young age after watching his mother, grandmother and aunt in the kitchen preparing family meals.
In 1986 he was studying law when he heard that a roadside trattoria was for sale on the outskirts of Modena. He put his studies on hold, bought and renovated the building, and opened Trattoria del Campazzo, his first restaurant, a week later. Bottura then apprenticed himself to chef Georges Coigny to build his culinary foundation, a combination of regional Italian cooking and classical French training.
On March 19, 1995 Bottura opened Osteria Francescana in the medieval city centre of Modena. His concept was to juxtapose culinary tradition and innovation with contemporary art and design.
In 2012, shortly after Osteria Francescana was awarded its third Michelin star, the restaurant closed for the summer for a period of refurbishment and opened with an updated insight into Bottura’s two biggest passions - contemporary art and avant garde cuisine.
Bottura and Osteria Francescana were featured in episode one of the first season of Netflix's Chef's Table series in 2015, and the second episode of the second season of Master of None. Bottura had heard that the series had shot at nearby Hosteria Giusti, and directly confronted Eric Wareheim and Aziz Ansari one evening, asking why they had not approached him. He offered them a full meal, which was subsequently shot for the episode and featured the actors' real reactions to his food.
In May 2014, he opened his first restaurant outside of Italy, "Ristorante Italia di Massimo Bottura" in Istanbul, Turkey.
He is the subject of a 2016 documentary film Theater of Life, about a soup kitchen he created using food waste from Expo 2015 in Milan. Bottura founded Food for Soul, a non-profit organization to promote social awareness and solutions for food wastage and hunger. He has also announced he will open a restaurant for the homeless in Sydney.
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