We used to stay with my mother-in-law on the Upper East Side when we visited New York. When she moved to Colorado I needed another base in the city. The Nomad (above) on Broadway and 28th Street has filled that gap. Breakfast is a luxury I don’t usually allow myself; what makes it so special here is the room, which is warm, with corners for me to hide in. I like to be quiet in the morning. I’m very picky about my coffee – it has to be a double espresso with foamy milk on the side. I always have scrambled eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, a toasted poppy-seed bagel and cream cheese. They order La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera especially for me to read.
What I love most to do in New York is to walk and visit art galleries. Collecting contemporary art is an important part of my life. My wife, Lara Gilmore, got me hooked. It informs all my thinking and cooking and we collect for the restaurant and our home. My favourite art-lunch haunt is the Seagram Building. My ideal lunch with Lara is at the bar, where you can wear sneakers and go incognito. I find myself craving their juicy, crispy bacon and gruyère cheeseburger with a homemade bun and a glass of Bordeaux. I don’t particularly love hamburgers, but I am carried away by the context, the architecture, the nonchalance. I’ve designed an Italian version of a burger with cotechino sausage, Parmigiano Reggiano, salsa verde and balsamic mayo for our informal trattoria Franceschetta 58. It’s an ode to the two places I love most: Modena and New York.
Why do tea when I can have cocktails at the Connaught? Since we started going to the 50 Best ceremony in London in 2009, we have always had a good-luck drink here first. I love the energy of the bartenders, especially Agostino Perrone, the master mixologist. I ask him to surprise me with something “quietly stirred” from the Martini trolley with its selection of bitters, from grapefruit to cardamom.
It has to be Jiro, a tiny, basement countertop in the Ginza station in Tokyo. I sit at the counter and Jiro gives me – hand to hand – one piece of sushi at a time. He watches me eat and wants me to be in the moment. It is a meditation on perfect flavour and texture. Temperature is everything to Jiro; the warmth of his hand is passed on through the fish and rice. He reminds me of myself – in search of perfection yet retaining a sense of wonder. When I leave, I feel a little high, like I’ve been hypnotised.
Like all chefs, I love a midnight snack. Sometimes it’s just my dog, Luna, and me in the kitchen of a sleeping house. We share culatello, cheese and spicy mostarda on a slice of toast. On an ideal night it would be tortellini and broth at my mother’s kitchen table. She is not with us any more, but my son Charlie has begun a tortellini-making programme with a group of autistic teenagers like himself, so we have tortellini in our freezer all the time.
Massimo Bottura was talking to Sudi Pigott