Massimo Bottura's Food for Soul project rolled on yesterday with the opening of RefettoRio Gastromotiva – a new soup kitchen in Rio de Janeiro that will invite some of the world's best chefs to cook in Brazil using surplus food from the Olympic Games.
Chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Virgilio Martinez, Alex Atala and Joan Roca will be invited to the newly built and designed space to invent and create free meals for those in need.
Supported also by S.Pellegrino, the project in Rio - in collaboration with Gastromotiva, a social gastronomy project devised by chef David Hertz - is a continuation of Bottura's first soup kitchen, which was opened in Italy during the Expo Milano. "It's about changing the landscape of communities," said the chef when asked about Food for Soul, just after his restaurant topped The World's 50 Best Restaurants list.
"It's an example for the next generation of chefs, food activists, food critics, and the public interested in bridging the gap between rich and poor, excess and hunger – through food … Everyone can embrace the mission, and together we can make the difference."
The Team in Rio - pic by Angelo Dal Bó
Food waste is a huge issue worldwide and one that has hit the spotlight recently with new laws in France, Italy and the UK being passed to help tackle the growing problem.
In Brazil, where the Olympic Games are in full swing, it's predicted that the country wastes enough food annually to feed the 7.2 million people who go hungry every year. RefettoRio Gastromotiva aims to highlight these issues across the country and will remain open as a soup kitchen and restaurant once the Games have finished.
In an excited video posted online, Bottura can be seen telling the team in Brazil they can open the door to serve the first meals. They will now remain open throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games, serving dinner every day. However, the soup kitchen has been granted a space lasting 10 years and has been created as a lasting project rather than an Olympic pop-up.
After the Games it will be operated by Gastromotiva as a restaurant/school – a place where they say people will be able to "pay a lunch and leave a dinner." It will provide cooking classes, workshops on nutrition and a number of projects to help educate people about the full use of food in the kitchen, all while continuing to feed many of Rio's needy residents.
Bottura has big plans for his Food for Soul initiative, with talks already happening for a similar soup kitchen in the Bronx in New York.