The Italian chef Massimo Bottura has been appointed Goodwill Ambassador under the UN Environment Program (UNEP) on the occasion of the inaugural International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. The appointment comes in recognition of his humanitarian work through Food for Soul, Tortellante and his ongoing commitment to fighting food waste globally. The UNEP program was created to intensify the fight against the global problem of food waste and loss.
“If we can use all of the ingredients to the fullest potential, we will reduce the amount of waste we are creating and shop more efficiently,” Bottura said. “In my role as UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, I will fight to reduce this global shame.”
The internationally acclaimed chef has not let the coronavirus crisis hinder his humanitarian work. Not only has he managed the closure and reopening of his Modena restaurants Osteria Francescana and Franceschetta58, including an impressive pivot to take-away during lockdown, but he has also created the hugely popular Kitchen Quarantine Instagram series to share his family’s evening cooking with people directly.
“I was lucky enough to live the life I had probably always dreamed of, because I decided to do what I loved," Bottura told La Repubblica. “There was a moment in which I realised that the cook had to take a step back because the technical revolution was sufficiently accomplished as not to merit further concentration of energy, and through culture he should represent something more than the sum of his recipes. After having received so much, perhaps everything, from life I felt the need to give back, to share with the world my vision of the meaning of 'Feeding the Planet' (the theme of the Milan Expo).
“Thus was born Food for Soul, an instrument with which we are at the forefront in the fight against food waste and social isolation, Tortellante was born, with which the elderly and disabled children find their place as protagonists in society, and also Kitchen Quarantine, where every evening, for 75 evenings, we shared our family life without filters.
“Every night, isolated in our apartment, we shared joy and the deepest values of cooking with the world, while the volunteers of our refectories prepared thousands of meals a day for the most vulnerable. I think that today the world has understood the value of this humanistic revolution which I am sure will unite the most sensitive minds and souls of the planet. I thank the United Nations for this incredible opportunity and I will do everything to continue on this path because, as J. Beuys said, 'We are the Revolution'.”
Reducing food waste is a priority for Food for Soul, with its Refettorio projects around the world. From Milan, to Rio de Janeiro, Mexico and Paris, Food for Soul has saved over 125 tonnes of imperfect food surplus from landfill, transforming ingredients into over a half a million nourishing meals for those experiencing social isolation and vulnerability. Bottura wants to inspire further action on food waste across society by showing the value of food, its connection to culture, emotion and innovation.