Located in the northwest of the Yucatán state in Mexico, Mérida represents the cultural heart and soul of the state. Thanks to its unique heritage and the warmth of its population, it is the perfect place to welcome our mission.
1) The #PowerOfBeauty is everywhere.
We truly believe that culture is the key ingredient to building a more conscious and socially cohesive world. And if this is true, then Mérida is the perfect place to start from, being the only city to have been named American Capital of Culture twice. Remarkably, it has also been named as the best small city in the world, and within Mexico one of the most peaceful to live in. Thanks to Mérida’s rich cultural life with its varied museums, its food and celebrations, its live music – we feel that our Refettorio will add great things to a city that already takes its culture and heritage, and the Power of Beauty, so seriously.
To celebrate Mexican culture and the equal right of all to beauty, Refettorio Mérida will display artworks by artist Bosco Sodi and other artworks selected by gallerist José Garcia Torres. Sodi is a Mexican contemporary artist known for his richly textured, vividly colored large-scale multimedia paintings. He is an internationally acclaimed artist also known for his philanthropic efforts. Torres is the director of the contemporary art gallery José Garcia Gallery based in Mérida which promotes leading Mexican and international artists.
2) You can feel the #ValueOfHospitality in every corner.
The Yucatán Peninsula, of which Mérida is the capital, has always considered itself to be slightly separate and independent from the rest of Mexico given its isolated geographic location and its very particular history. Given this, it has a hugely diverse and unique culture, and it is its culinary identity in particular that sets it apart from the rest of Mexico, with important influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Lebanon and, perhaps most importantly, the Mayas.
The city is suffused with the heritage of the Maya, their respect of the natural world and their traditional cuisine in particular. Alongside this respect of tradition, Mérida is, by nature, a cosmopolitan city. Since the 16th century, Mérida has always had a large immigrant population and it reflects the Spanish, Korean, Lebanese, British, French, and Dutch influences in its culture today.
After the decline of the Mayan city called T’ho, the Spanish built Mérida on their arrival in 1542 on the same spot. The two cultures eventually mingled and as immigrants from around the world began to arrive, Mérida’s population became more and more diverse and eventually assimilated into the cultural mix you can find today. These days, the variety and warmth of the city draws in expats from all over the world, and residents and visitors alike are made to feel welcomed and cared for.
Refettorio Mérida will be located inside a blue and white building called Casa Santa Luisa, a historic colonial house that once belonged to the Yucatecan philanthropist Pedro Canales, an advocate for social conscience, who gifted the house to the Voluntarias Vicentinas de Yucatán AC. The house, which has been fully renovated by a team of architects and designers, has a beautiful courtyard, an external dining area where guests will be able to sit and enjoy lunch together, a small family chapel, and numerous other rooms where workshops, cultural activities and social programs will be offered to engage the whole community. Our aim was to find a place that could be welcoming and familiar and we feel that Casa Santa Maria will be perfect for our guests.
3) It fully embraces Food for Soul’s #QualityOfIdeas.
The positive energy and opportunity for human interaction in Mérida is overwhelming. It is a city in which the exchange of ideas is an everyday phenomenon. It is the place where people around the State with something to sell gather together – the number and diversity of the local markets in Mérida is quite something. You can join locals for open-air dancing to swing and salsa bands, get lost around the evening city markets and food stalls or enjoy the crafts around the main squares in the city. It is not a case that chefs from Mérida and the whole of Mexico will be joining us in the kitchen of the Refettorio, helping the local staff to offer a nourishing and hearty service to our guests.
The monuments around the city convey a deep sense of responsibility, a responsibility to remember the history of the city. Built with white local stone, Mérida is known as ‘La Ciudad Blanca’ (The White City). When the Spanish came to the Yucatán Peninsula, they destroyed many of the historical monuments, using this white stone to build their new cities, like Mérida. These statues and buildings remind us of the painful history of the city while simultaneously shining a light on every form of hidden potential.
Mérida – the Yucatan haven for the Mexican and expatriate artists – is the perfect platform for learning and exchange, giving the possibility every day of inspiring each other to act.
For these and many other reasons we truly believe that Merida will welcome Food for Soul with open arms and encourage the work it will do for people in condition of social vulnerability, helping us in our mission to make our voice louder and send our message further.