Like any big event spanning over weeks, the Olympics organisers have to produce millions of meals per day to feed every athlete, manager, trainer and staff members that are in Rio for the games. And sometimes not all the food is being consumed and like any restaurant or café anywhere in the world, there will be a wastage of food. Italian Chef Massimo Bottura – his restaurant Osteria Francescana recently won the top award from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants – saw this as “an opportunity to do something that can make a difference” as he told The New York Times.
All the ingredients have been donated and a group of the world’s most venerated chefs are working together to use these leftovers to feed 70 homeless people in the area. Many of these chefs and servers have traveled from to Rio from California, Germany and Japan. Called Refettorio Gastromotiva – refettorio means ‘dining hall’ in Italian – was set up with the hope that it will change the way the world will think about hunger and food waste.
“This is not just a charity; it’s not just about feeding people,” said Mr. Bottura, “This is about social inclusion, teaching people about food waste and giving hope to people who have lost all hope.”
It was set up on Wednesday and since then, Refettorio Gastromotiva has been packed. Plus, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy and culinary visionaries like Alain Ducasse, Virgilio Martínez Véliz and Joan Roca are among the 50 or so chefs that have signed up for shifts in the kitchen. Alex Atala, the owner of one of Brazil’s top-rated restaurants helped prepare the Thursday menu which included Italian-style couscous with sautéed beef and panzanella, a Tuscan bread and tomato dish, using ingredients donated by the catering companies that supply to the Olympic village.
This isn’t Mr. Bottura’s first venture into this kind of philanthropy. During the World Expo in Milan last year, he turned an abandoned theatre into Refettorio Ambrosiano. He also runs a nonprofict, Gastromotiva, which has four schools in Brazil with 2,500 graduates who have gone on to work with restaurants all over the country.
Mr. Bottura plans to keep this going and thanks to a 10-year lease on the land they’re using, even once the Rio Games are over. As the New York Times reports, Refettorio Gastromotiva will serve lunch to paying customers and use the proceeds to fund 108 free dinners each night for those in need.
Featured Image: Eater.com