Massimo Bottura to open food waste London refectory in ChelseaCultureFood & DrinksNews & features
Food waste seems set to dominate London’s headlines throughout 2017, as Massimo Bottura becomes the latest figure to add their name to the list of eco-conscious projects. The three-Michelin-starred chef of Osteria Francescana is one of the world’s leading culinary figures, and he’s chosen London Food Month in June to launch this third Refettorio right here in the capital. According to the Italian guide Gambero Rosso, the refectory is set to open in Chelsea and it will feature artistic collaborations in partnership with Jay Jopling’s White Cube.
Named Refettorio Felix, in honour of The Felix Project’s immense support for cutting food waste, it will be open for lunch Monday to Friday, using ingredients that would otherwise be wasted to provide heavily subsidised food for those that need it. Much like with wastED, the project will be kept fresh by daily guest appearances from some of the country’s top chefs. No names are confirmed yet – rumours include Alain Ducasse, René Redzepi, Mario Batali – but considering the popularity of the cause and the sheer weight of Bottura’s name, expect the absolute cream of the crop to serving up healthy and innovative spins on some unusual ingredients.
Bottura has a history with this sort of thing. Unlike many chefs, accused mouthing somewhat empty platitudes about sustainability with very little action, his not-for-profit organisation Food for Soul has already run Refettorios (the first one in Milan, opened for the 2015 Expo), and are seriously invested in the social issues that surround food. Bottura himself has spoken in the past about using the celebrity and status brought to him through countless awards, tv appearances and his cult following, to change the world for the better.
He’s not the only one: this year has seen a surge of awareness of the food waste problem. Dan Barber’s wildly successful wastED popup, FoodCycle finally breaking into the mainstream media, the Evening Standard’s pledge to cover the issue in depth suddenly, forcefully and (hopefully) irrevocably in the public conscience. The tide of opinion appears to be on the turn, as people begin to question whether discarding huge quantities of vegetables for being an odd shape, or not quite the right shade of green, is in the interest of anyone except the faceless, money-craving behemoths behind “big food”.
Bottura’s project is, in his eyes, so much more than just a simple soup kitchen. Members of the public will be invited to volunteer to serve, or help in whatever way they can, in order to foster community and cooperation. The idea is to make a uniquely human experience for all those involved, to remove some of the coldness of industrialisation and replace it with kindness and compassion; not just for the body, but for the soul.
Photo: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information about Food for Soul and future events visit here.