Massimo Bottura opens a Refettorio in the heart of Paris
Food for Soul, the non-profit organisation founded by chef Massimo Bottura, has partnered with Le Foyer de la Madeleine, a social restaurant running inexpensive lunch services, to open its third major international project. Thanks to this exciting joint venture, on 15th March 2018 Refettorio Paris opened its doors in the crypt of the Church of La Madeleine, a place of significant historical value in the heart of Paris.
Refettorio Paris is not a charity project, it’s a cultural one, based on Food for Soul’s founding principle that Ethics and Aesthetics are one and the same. For this reason, artists, architects and designers have been working together to transform the restaurant Le Foyer de la Madeleine into an even more engaging and inspiring space. French artists JR and Prune Nourry, internationally known for their multi-disciplinary installations in public spaces all over the world, have created installations specifically for this site. In the months and years to come they will also invite other artists to contribute to the history and life of Refettorio Paris, starting with young Afghan artist Kubra Khademi. Renowned for using recycled materials to create their projects, architect Nicola Delon, co-founder of Encore Heureux, and designer Ramy Fischler, founder of the agency RF Studio, have applied the same philosophy to the renovation of Refettorio Paris.
On the day of the opening, two legendary French chefs helped cook the very first meals: Alain Ducasse and Yannick Alléno. Ducasse brought with him Romain Meder, head chef of three-michelin-starred Plaza Athénée restaurant, and Christian Julliard, one of his right-hand men. More chefs from Paris, France and around the world have been invited by Massimo Bottura to prepare healthy and delicious meals with surplus ingredients provided by Carrefour, the Banque Alimentaire and Phenix, a young social entrepreneurship tackling food waste by serving as a link between large supermarkets and various charitable associations. Every night from Monday to Friday, a team of volunteers welcome guests, mostly refugees, homeless, rough sleepers and people in situations of social vulnerability, serving them dinner directly at the table. Refettorio Paris aims to serve 100 meals a day using about 130 kg of recovered food.
In addition to addressing the issue of food waste, the project seeks to raise awareness on the increasing problem of social isolation. Refettorio Paris is not just about offering a warm meal; through the values of hospitality and beauty, the project wants to engage the guests, the volunteers, the chefs and the whole community in a holistic approach to nourishment: for the body as well as for the soul.
Following the opening, Refettorio Paris is kept running with the support of Food for Soul and Le Foyer de la Madeleine, while culinary students are in charge of preparing daily meals for the guests. On top of offering meals, Refettorio Paris will host events, workshops and social entrepreneurship programmes to inspire and engage the whole community in the fight against food waste and social isolation.
The opening of Refettorio Paris coincided with the launch of the French edition of Massimo Bottura’s book Le Pain est d’or: Ingrédients ordinaires pour repas extraordinaires, published by Phaidon. The book collects stories, recipes and experiences of more than 50 chefs who joined Refettorio Ambrosiano, the first community kitchen, opened in Milan in 2015. Part of the proceeds from Le Pain est d’or will be donated to Food for Soul to create many other community kitchens like Refettorio Paris around the world.
We made a video of the opening event and the highlights of Massimo Bottura’s speeches which you can watch here.
The editorial unit
Photos and videos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information about Food for Soul and the Refettorios visit their website here.