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Seeing Stars in Miami Beach

A Conversation with Chef Massimo Bottura and Chef Michaël Michaelidis

By McKenna Mears | Photography courtesy of MILA Omakase

We’re seeing stars—Michelin stars, that is! A constellation of world-renowned chefs illuminated MILA Omakase in Miami Beach earlier this year for a unique collaborative dinner. MILA Omakase’s chefs, Michelin-pedigreed Chef Michaël Michaelidis and Chef Reiji Yoshizawa, welcomed Torno Subito chefs Massimo Bottura and Bernardo Paladini for an ultra-exclusive ten-seat dining experience, marrying the flavors and techniques of both restaurants and marking Torno Subito’s introduction to the Miami market.

Following this stellar event, we had the privilege of speaking with chefs Massimo Bottura and Michaël Michaelidis, who discussed the inspirations, techniques, and vision behind their culinary mastery.

Chef Massimo Bottura, the dynamic Italian visionary credited with revolutionizing the landscape of Italian cuisine, commands a level of reverence and admiration few can match. His name resonates among connoisseurs worldwide, thanks to his iconic restaurant Osteria Francescana in the heart of Modena, Italy. This establishment has consistently garnered widespread acclaim and holds three Michelin stars.

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Chef Massimo Bottura

Bottura’s upbringing in a large family in Modena instilled in him a deep appreciation for food. He fondly recalls, “The kitchen was always the place where we could talk, fight, dream, make peace, and present the future.” In the early 1990s, he ventured to New York, where he met his wife, Lara Gilmore, while both were working at an Italian café. Upon his return to Modena, Bottura honed his skills under the guidance of Alain Ducasse at Le Louis XV at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, a three-Michelin-starred establishment.

In 1995, Bottura opened Osteria Francescana, a venture driven by grand aspirations. “It was very tough—I was creating all these plates that are now iconic for Italian cuisine, but at that time, they were too avant-garde, and people didn’t understand what I was doing,” he reminisces. His perseverance bore fruit in 2001 when he received his first Michelin star, alongside numerous prestigious awards.

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“When people visit Osteria Francescana after a six-month wait, they anticipate consuming not only great food but also emotions,” Bottura explains. “While it is a three-Michelin-starred restaurant, outstanding cuisine is a given; however, evoking emotion is a distinctive approach.”

The recognition continued to mount: a second star in 2005, a third in 2011, and the title of the World’s Best Restaurant in 2016 and 2018, followed by the addition of the Michelin Green Star in 2020. Osteria Francescana is one of the few restaurants worldwide adorned with three red Michelin stars and the coveted Michelin Green Star for sustainability. Highlighted by his role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme, Bottura’s efforts in championing sustainability and combating food waste have not gone unnoticed. With statistics revealing that the world squanders 33 percent of its food production while over 800 million people suffer from hunger, he felt compelled to take action.

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MILA Omakase staff with Chefs Massimo Bottura and Bernardo Paladini of Torno Subito

While it is a three-Michelin-starred restaurant, outstanding cuisine is a given; however, evoking emotion is a distinctive approach

Leveraging his expertise and global influence, Bottura embarked on a mission to address these pressing issues by creating Refettorios. These innovative soup kitchens repurpose excess food from supermarkets and local suppliers to provide nutritious meals for those in need. In collaboration with architects, designers, artists, and other creatives, Bottura transformed these spaces into havens of hope and dignity for vulnerable populations. By employing chefs from around the world, he aims to cultivate an atmosphere of warmth and inclusivity. Bottura now has thirteen Refettorios worldwide.

Beyond his humanitarian efforts, Bottura is also known for his commitment to sustainability, with many of his restaurants certified as zero-waste establishments. His philosophy emphasizes the power of utilizing food waste to foster creativity and innovation. He advocates for a cultural shift toward responsible consumption, urging individuals to prioritize mindful shopping habits such as selecting seasonal products and purchasing what is necessary for a few days at a time.

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Chefs Massimo Bottura and Reiji Yoshizawa

In a newer venture, Casa Maria Luigia, Bottura transformed a restored eighteenth-century farm into a cozy retreat with twelve rooms, capturing the essence of a beloved family home. Named after Bottura’s mother, Maria Luigia—known for her welcoming spirit and incredible cooking—the place channels the vibe of his childhood abode, fondly called “Hotel California” by Bottura’s brother thanks to its open-door policy. At Casa Maria Luigia, the kitchen is always buzzing, serving iconic dishes from Osteria Francescana. With every bite and every guest welcomed, the spirit of Maria Luigia lives on, infusing the place with love and warmth that make it a truly special destination.

Michelin-starred Chef Michaël Michaelidis is the head of culinary at Riviera Dining Group. His storied career has been marked by a remarkable achievement: twenty-six Michelin stars earned through his work in Cannes, Monaco, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo.

Chef Michaël Michaelidis

Chef Michaelidis was born and raised in the South of France to a Greek father and a Dutch mother. His culinary journey began under the watchful eye of his grandmother, spending countless hours in the kitchen, preparing meals and welcoming neighbors with open arms. Meanwhile, his father’s occupation as a fisherman and hunter ensured that the family table was always full of the freshest bounty from land and sea. This fusion of cultural influences and a commitment to sourcing the finest ingredients laid the foundation for Chef Michaelidis’s culinary passion and expertise.

At age fourteen, Michaelidis began working at the Ritz-Carlton in Cannes. “It was there I discovered the artistry of fine dining,” he says. “This kitchen operated with such precision and discipline; you could almost hear a pin drop.” He soon moved to the kitchen at Hôtel Martinez, a Hyatt Hotel in Cannes, where he determined his goal was to become a three-Michelin-starred chef by age thirty.

Chef Michaël Michaelidis, Chef Massimo Bottura, mila omakase

Following this, he moved to the esteemed kitchen at Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. Here, chefs emphasized using farm-fresh ingredients, seafood straight from the water, and top-quality meats. During his four years working alongside Alain Ducasse, Michaelidis gained invaluable experience. “I rediscovered the freshness of each ingredient,” he explains.

He was then contacted by a headhunter for a prestigious position with a wealthy family seeking a chef for their luxurious megayacht. Embracing the opportunity, he embarked on a globetrotting adventure among private jets and exclusive islands. Each day, he prepared fresh cuisine, collaborating with a diverse team of individuals from around the world. Still, he missed the intensity of fine dining and relocated to Hong Kong in 2010 to work at Spoon by Alain Ducasse. His mission became elevating the restaurant to a second Michelin star—a goal he achieved within eight months.

Michaelidis continued to push the boundaries of gastronomic innovation in Singapore and Tokyo, earning an impressive array of Michelin stars. Remarkably, he achieved his goal of attaining three Michelin stars by age thirty with a year to spare. Michaelidis’s reputation for excellence grew with each star earned, and his commitment to quality and creativity shone through every dish.

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Chef Reiji Yoshizawa

Now, as he leads the team at Riviera Dining Group, Chef Michaelidis brings a wealth of experience and an emphasis on maintaining freshness in sourcing. “I’ve established direct partnerships with farms spanning from Japan to Hawaii and along both the East and West Coasts of the US,” he explains. “My initial focus was fostering trust and sustainability with our farmers and suppliers. Once this foundation was laid, I could then impart to my chefs the importance of treating ingredients with respect to elevate their flavors to the fullest.”

Chef Michaelidis recently returned from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), where he engaged with aspiring young chefs eager to learn and grow. “It’s crucial to continue educating the next generation,” he shares. Through his extensive experience and mentorship, Michaelidis ensures that the legacy of culinary innovation continues to thrive within Riviera Dining Group and beyond.

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To learn more about Chef Massimo Bottura, visit or follow on Instagram @massimobottura. To learn more about Riviera Dining Group, visit or follow on Instagram @rivieradininggroup.

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