Massimo Bottura unveils new Food for Soul organisation
On 3 April 2016, chef Bottura was one of the key speakers in the new chapter of MAD symposium. This was the first time that MAD had been held outside of Denmark. The Italian chef joined chef René Redzepi, young Zimbabwean, campaigner-farmer Chido Govera, the American chef-restaurateur David Chang, chef-author Kylie Kwong and other great, culinary thinkers.
Massimo Bottura, the chef-patron of Osteria Francescana in Modena, spoke about the social responsibility of chefs in a talk entitled, „Cooking is a Call to Act“. During his discourse, chef Bottura introduced his new Food for Soul, a non-profit, cultural project to fight food wastage through cooking. He quizzed the assembled crowd: „could hunger be relieved by creative management of daily food wastage?“
Food for Soul is the continuation of Bottura’s off site Expo project Refettorio Ambrosiano in Milan. Here he was able to transform an abandoned theatre into a contemporary soup kitchen, inviting 60 chefs from all over the world to cook with the waste from Expo. Bottura insists that this was not a charity project but a cultural endeavour. Outside the building a neon sign by artist Maurizio Nannucci bears testimony to Bottura’s conviction: NO MORE EXCUSES. Artists, architects and designers contributed to the project to create a unique space. During the 6 months of Expo, 100 volunteers washed dishes, mopped the floors and served over 10,000 healthy meals cooked from 15 tons of salvaged food. Long after Expo has left the city, the Refettorio Ambrosiano continues to serve meals 5 days every week to the homeless people of Milan.
The Food for Soul organisation is Bottura’s response to the many chefs who have asked to open a refettorio in their city. The team will raise funds to renovate and rejuvenate spaces in areas that have been neglected, as well as support already existing soup kitchens in improving their service.
In June, Food for Soul will be collaborating with an established soup kitchen in Bologna in order to welcome more guests, including refugee families. Then it hopes to leap over an ocean. The city of Rio has donated an empty lot to create a Refettorio Rio. If sufficient support is committed, this Food for Soul project could open during the Rio Olympics. Besides working as a soup kitchen, the space will be used to give free tutelage and training to its guests to empower young people from the favelas through gastronomy.
The recovery of food, places and communities is aimed to give back dignity to the table. Food for Soul wants to provide an enriching environment where nourishment is not only meant to be for the body, but also for the soul.
Chef Bottura believes:
We NEED MORE places that UNITE people at the table
We NEED MORE places that REVIVE neighbourhoods
We NEED MORE places that RESTORE the body and the soul
Donations to the non-profit Food for Soul will be directed to specific projects in Italy and abroad.