This week, Refettorio Gastromotiva has been celebrating its anniversary by inviting guests chefs – Katia Barbosa, Jerôme Dardillac, Flávia Quaresma, Ana Ribeiro and Ciça Roxo are just some of them – to cook special meals for those in need. Jerome Dardillac, for example, offered guests a very typical meal by preparing lentil salad with crunchy vegetables and balsamic oil vinaigrette, chicken with coconut milk and spices with Thai flavor, white rice and breadcrumbs with chestnuts from the Amazon and fruit salad infused with lemongrass and citruses. These delicious “birthday meals” were then delivered to people around the area by local partners and organizations that support the initiative.
But could it ever be a birthday without a cake? Different students from Gastromotiva culinary courses have been preparing colorful and delicious cakes to be delivered each day to people in need, showing that the value of hospitality, the quality of ideas and the power of beauty are still the founding principles of this beautiful project.
Embodying the Power of Beauty
To fulfill the dream of building Refettorio Gastromotiva from scratch, Vik Muniz, the art curator, had Gustavo Cedroni of METRO Architects develop the architecture. Situated on the edge of a small square and adjacent to one of the city’s main thoroughfares, the Refettorio was designed to reinforce connections with these public spaces and the surrounding community. The Campana Brothers and Maneco Quinderé designed the scenography and furniture. The material palette is of authentic, industrial materials that are commonly found in the area, resulting in an honest, no-frills aesthetic that celebrates the essential construction elements and services, while artworks by JR and Pas Schafer are also proudly displayed on the walls of the building. Designed to be welcoming and accessible to everyone, Refettorio Gastromotiva is clad in translucent polycarbonate panels so that the light shines through the walls illuminating the neighbourhood and sending a message of openness to the whole community.
Valuing the Quality of Ideas
By the time the construction process started, the Refettorio was an empty, run-down lot and just 54 days to go until the opening. On the launch night, the Refettorio still didn’t have a working stove, instead borrowing a camping stove from one of its neighbouring buildings. But the team didn’t let that detract from the ideal of a space where everyone could feel at home. Everyone was determined to put in the effort to ensure that the plans for the space evolved, rather than being compromised by time constraints, incorporating already-present features like bare brick walls into the design.
“While using basic materials, the whole aesthetic [of Refettorio Gastromotiva] had to be an intentional divergence from what Rio’s homeless would see in their daily life”, according to architect Cedroni, who worked on the project. “For this reason, the space’s careful curation – its kitchen-heart in the centre, its night-time glow from the outside, its colourful artwork, the volunteer waiters and visiting chefs – are all fundamental to creating its atmosphere. It had to be something magical,” he said. “It’s a special event for those who come here.”
Reflecting the Value of Hospitality
By rearranging its activities – thanks to the help of volunteers, chefs, the project team and local partners – Refettorio Gastromotiva has continued to assist the community in every possible way, even during the COVID-19 health emergency. Following the recent outbreak, the Refettorio transformed its dining room into a Food Bank where chefs and volunteers store and recover the surplus ingredients used to prepare take-away meals for people in need from the area – until today, the Food Bank recovered around 110.2 tons of food, which were transformed into almost 183 meals for people in need.
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(Photo Credits: Alexandra Karmirian)