Refettorio Gastromotiva beyond the Olympics

Since opening on August, 9th, Refettorio Gastromotiva has welcomed guest chefs, students, volunteers and most importantly the homeless, working poor and disadvantaged community of Rio. Day by day, this community kitchen has grown to become an integral part of the neighborhood of Lapa and will continue to keep its doors open, working both as a culinary school and a soup kitchen, long after the Olympic and Paralympic Games have left the city

Back in December 2015, Refettorio Gastromotiva was a dream. With the determination of Gastromotiva founder, David Hertz, that of Massimo Bottura’s organization Food for Soul, and the precious collaboration of Alexandra Forbes, this dream became a working idea. The project found a physical space with a generous donation from the town of Rio, then an enthusiastic team of architects who designed a building out of an empty alley. Months passed and walls that went up, eventually a kitchen, a roof, lights and people. Thanks to proactive team, partners and supporters, Refettorio Gastromotiva became a real working space in less than 55 days of construction and from opening day, the community kitchen has been serving warm meals to those in need. From the moment the food truck arrives to when the doors close in the evening after the staff meal, the project has been shaped by the unique interaction between our guests, the Gastromotiva students, and the generosity of the international chefs who visited us day after day to teach, cook and share their life experiences.

But the best is yet to come. Refettorio Gastromotiva will continue its work long after the Olympic and Paralympic Games have left the city, remaining as a legacy of the Games.

The team of Gastromotiva, lead by David Hertz, has brought years of experience working with local communities and their passionate mission of Social Gastronomy to the Refettorio project. More than just its continuation, Gastromotiva will guarantee the evolution from a soup kitchen into a community resource and a social enterprise. This will be possible by broadening the activities to engage diverse sectors of the community, not only the homeless and working poor.

In November, Refettorio Gastromotiva will open its doors to the public for a lunch formula in which the cost of the meal will help cover the free meals provided in the evening.

Over the past month, Refettorio Gastromotiva has become a hub for education and social empowerment. It will soon begin to host vocational training classes and workshops looking at how to work with ingredients to avoid food waste. This will also be an opportunity to address the crucial issue of nutrition in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods with an emphasis on teaching how to prepare healthy and delicious meals to those most in need.

What will tomorrow’s meal look like?

Will it be sustainable? Will it be healthy? Will it be available to many? These are the questions Refettorio Gastromotiva is eager to find solutions to through action. We believe that through innovative projects like Refettorio Gastromotiva we can have a positive impact on nourishment, not only our own but of the communities we belong to. That is what Refettorio Gastromotiva looks like today and tomorrow.

photo credits: Angelo Dal Bo