Master Chef Massimo Bottura Is Feeding Thousands Of Rio's Homeless With Olympic Leftovers

August 19, 2016

Using leftover ingredients from Olympic caterers and other local partners, Italian master chef Massimo Bottura created a gourmet soup kitchen, ReffetoRio Gastromotiva, that for a week now has been serving up meals to Rio's homeless population.

chefs serving homeless with Olympic waste
AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

With questions swirling over the $12 billion price tag of South America's first Olympics, Bottura wanted to make a statement about the games' sustainability by taking on one symbol of Olympic waste: the more than 230 tons of food supplied daily to prepare 60,000 meals for athletes, coach and staff.

"This is a cultural project, not a charity," said Bottura. "We want to rebuild the dignity of the people."

"Just sitting here, treated with respect on an equal footing, makes me think I have a chance," said Valdimir Faria, an educated man who found himself alone on Rio's streets, in a downward alcoholic spiral, after his marriage and life in a city hours away fell apart.

Every night a new menu is whipped up by a guest chef with the help of students enrolled in a vocational training program. Together they're cooking 5,000 hearty meals per day.

After the Olympics leave town, the plan is for the Refettorio to become a normal restaurant at lunch and a soup kitchen in the evenings. The price of one lunch will cover the cost of a dinner for Rio's less fortunate.

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