Some of the world's top chefs joined forces to create gourmet meals for Rio's homeless population.
Italian chef Massimo Bottura, owner of one of the world’s top 50 restaurants, realized that the amount of food thrown away during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro could potentially be put to greater use.
“I thought, this is an opportunity to do something that can make a difference,” Bottura told The New York Times.
Along with various chefs who had traveled from across the world, Bottura created Refettorio Gastromotiva, a venture to transform the way the world thinks about food waste, hunger and feeding human dignity.”
“This is not just a charity; it’s not just about feeding people,” Bottura explained. “This is about social inclusion, teaching people about food waste and giving hope to people who have lost all hope.”
The initiative, which launched on August 10 in the Lapa neighborhood, has already become a big hit. Guests such as Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, and Brazilian actress and TV host, Regina Case, have come to take a look.
Top chefs such as Alain Ducasse and Joan Roca are among the dozens of culinary masterminds who have volunteered to serve in the kitchen. Alex Atala, owner of one of Brazil’s top restaurants, helped to create one of the gourmet evening menus with ingredients donated by catering companies working with the Olympic village.
“We are a generation of young chefs who are not competing with each other, but who want to share,” Atala said.
Bottura teamed up with Brazilian chef David Hertz several months before the Olympics in order to develop this venture. Hertz convinced Rio’s mayor to provide an empty lot for Refettorio Gastromotiva, while Bottura started the fundraising process to make the homeless dining hall into a reality.
“People right now just don’t trust each other, and most of these companies didn’t want to get involved in a project they thought could get messy,” explained Cristina Reni, project manager of Refettorio Gastromotiva.
Bottura wants to continue working with the venture after the Olympics end. By offering lunch to paying customers, he plans to use the funds to serve 108 free dinners a night.