‘RefettoRio’, a play on the Italian ‘refettorio’ (refectory), and of course this year’s Olympic city, Rio, is the brainchild of the celebrated chef Massimo Bottura and founder of Gastromotiva David Hertz. The ambitious project plans to serve 19,000 meals, recovering 12 tons of waste food, over the 20 days of the Games.
Bottura, chef and owner of the Osteria Francescana – awarded best restaurant in the world 2016, and holder of three coveted Michelin stars – has teamed up with the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, as well Hertz, who has worked for 10 years in the Brazilian ‘favelas’, or slums, providing food to the most disadvantaged.
Speaking about the RefettoRio project, Hertz said, “at the Olympics, starting on August 5th, excellent meals will be served to people in difficulty, by recovering the surplus food of the Olympic village. RefettoRio Gastromotiva wants to promote a conscious use of food as a whole, aligning the recovery of waste food with the recovery of human dignity.”
RefettoRio is located in a renovated abandoned building in Lapa, an area at the heart of the city, and will feed 108 people at each service. Their aim is to serve 19,000 meals by the end of the games, entirely from food which would otherwise have ended up in the bin.
Not only will they be providing food, but they will also be organising cooking classes and classes on nutrition for young people in the favelas, particularly focused on the promotion of fresh fruit and vegetables instead of the processed, pre-prepared food which is widespread in the favelas.
The idea was born in the wake of the Refettorio Ambrosiano, which Bottura ran last year in Italy during the Expo Milan 2015 on a similar basis. His philosophy is simple; food is ultimately about survivial. “To ‘recover’ food, in Latin, is ‘rinconquistare’ an act of will and strength. ‘Discard’, however, is to surrender, to be out of harmony with the world – not to mention your tongue.”