Culinary Art as a Powerful Means of Cultural Diplomacy and Social Change

World-famous Italian Chef, Massimo Bottura, Fights Hunger by Introducing Italy’s Best Culinary Practices to Rio de Janeiro

September 12th, 2016
Myron Kanter-Bax, CD News

One of the world's leading chefs, the Italian Massimo Bottura, has been providing meals for the homeless and disadvantaged people of Rio de Janeiro as part of a project which is running throughout the Olympics and Paralympics. He was requested to participate by the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro. The project is sending a powerful message about human dignity and social inclusion and helping to reduce the quantity of food waste.

The widely known Italian chef Massimo Bottura is the owner of Osteria Francescana, which has recently been named best restaurant worldwide at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards 2016. He launched an ambitious project in Rio de Janeiro during the period of the Olympic games after an invitation from Rio’s Mayor. 

The ‘RefettoRio Gastromotiva’ initiative is an innovative project aiming to establish a restaurant that transforms surplus food from the Olympic Village into dishes for Rio's homeless and disadvantaged people.
The idea behind the project is quite straightforward. According to Mr.  Bottura’s estimations, a single meal to feed the 18,000 Olympic athletes and their coaches requires 250 tons of raw ingredients. This produces an enormous quantity of food waste, which could be utilized for the benefit of the poor and marginalized population of Rio who do not have sufficient access to food.

The project is not Mr. Bottura’s first venture into culinary philanthropy. It follows a similar successful project, which was launched by the famous Italian chef in Italy last year. During the World Expo in Milan in 2015, Mr. Bottura turned an abandoned theater into ‘Refettorio Ambrosiano’, a restaurant which is still operating.

The aim for the new project, RefettoRio Gastromotiva, is to live on beyond the Olympics and Paralympics, with food being sourced from various suppliers including surplus, unsold produce from local grocery stores.
The initiative was supported by celebrities and world-famous personalities from the fields of politics and culture. The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, and the Brazilian actress Regina Casé, have expressed their support and famous chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Virgilio Martínez Véliz and Joan Roca are amongst the 50 chefs who have signed up for kitchen shifts.

Mr. Bottura’s inspirational initiatives have also had a catalytic impact on persuading the lawmakers in Italy and France, the two countries with the highest gastronomy in the Western world, to introduce a law that prevents massive food waste.


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