Refettorio Gastromotiva — Chefs use leftover Olympics food to feed the poor

Refettorio Gastromotiva — Chefs use leftover Olympics food to feed the poor

Chefs use leftover Olympics food to feed the poor

By Dona Paranayil
Saudi Gazette


At a time when Brazil is caught up in a political and economic crisis and people are worried over the spread of Zika virus, Rio Olympics may seem to worry many people in the city as they fear the hosting of games could lead to severe financial crisis. However, two of the world’s top chefs are changing the attitude and bringing hope by preparing leftover food from Olympics and feeding it to the poor for free in Rio where 25 percent of the population live in favelas.

Refettorio Gastromotiva is a brilliant initiative launched by Italian chef and founder of Food for Soul, Massimo Bottura, Brazilian chef David Hertz and journalist Alexandra Forbes, to make people aware of food waste management, fighting hunger and serving the poor with good nutritious food. Launched on August 9, Refettorio Gastromotiva is not a charity project but a cultural one, according to Bottura. The main aim is to change the way people think. Everyday, tons of food gets wasted in each corner of the world either due to product expiration or excess stock piled especially in supermarkets. Bottura, the owner of three Michelin star restaurant Osteria Francescana, and Hertz, the founder of Gastromotiva, a non-profit organization that provides training to the most disadvantaged but talented young cooks and promotes social change using gastronomy as a tool, are showing the world that they can make incredibly delicious MasterChef dishes from donated food that would otherwise have been thrown out from the Olympic Village where around 18,000 athletes, coaches and officials are fed. Hertz told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that they would only make meals from ingredients that are about to be wasted for example ugly fruit, vegetables or yogurt that would be thrown out in two days if no one buys it.

Hertz along with his team from Gastromotiva were invited to Saudi Arabia last year, to take part in Cityquest2015 in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC). As a global leader by the World Economic Forum, he left an impression among the Saudis by delivering a crucial speech providing ideas to the hospitality industry that focused on social gastronomy. His team also offered a course on kitchen skills required.

Hertz and Bottura are currently producing 5000 meals a day from the leftovers to feed up to 108 people for dinner. ‘Refettorio’ means dining hall in Italian, so the chefs have created their own space, in other words, a soup kitchen, in Rio’s Lapa neighborhood quiet far away from the entire buzz and invited more than 40 international chefs and volunteers to take part in the project.

Refettorio Gastromotiva comes after a similar initiative that was launched by the chefs called Refettorio Ambrosiano during the World Expo in Milan, Italy, last year where a huge abandoned theater was converted into a soup kitchen and more than 10,000 meals were produced from 15 tons of surplus food. The center is still in action and the chefs are seeing the same future for Refettorio Gastromotiva. The project will run until the end of Paralympics in September and continue further as a social business. Bottura is also working on other projects that will open in Los Angeles, New York and Montreal next year.