By: Gabby Swenson

World-renowned Italian chef, Massimo Bottura, used leftover Olympic food to provide free meals for the citizens of Rio affected by the 2016 Olympic games.

It takes 250 tons of raw ingredients to feed 2,500 Olympians each meal. Over the course of 16 days, it takes a grand total of 12,000 tons of ingredients just to prepare food for the athletes, but unfortunately not all that food is eaten. Bottura’s project was inspired by the mass amounts of food that go to waste each Olympic year.

Bottura is working with 30 other volunteer chefs to open up Refettorio Gastromotiva, a pop-up style soup kitchen. Refettorio Gastromotiva is not an average plastic silverware, line up to get your food, soup kitchen. There are servers, artwork and hand built tables scattered throughout the restaurant. Seating 108 people, the restaurant serves dinner to residents of some of the poorest areas of Rio. The three course meal is made from leftovers such as mushy fruit or bread deemed inadequate for the athletes.

rio slums
The 2016 Olympics hide the slums that cover Rio.

The movement has spread with chefs from South and Central America joining Bottura to helping those in need. The biggest problem these chefs face is not knowing what ingredients they will have until the day of cooking. They must use their cooking knowledge and come up with something fast before the hungry citizens line up outside. Volunteers wait tables in the restaurant.

The chefs have reached out to the Olympics organizing committee but to no avail. They are hoping to partner up so this can happen at future Olympic Games. David Hertz, Bottura’s collaborator, told Independent Online, “No one was interested. There was nothing.” Hertz has dedicated his time to train those from poorer areas in Brazil to be kitchen assistants.

This isn’t the first time Bottura has created a pop-up soup kitchen. During the 2015 Milan Expo he built one in an abandoned theatre. Chefs could stop by to volunteer and help Bottura while the Expo went on.

Bottura wants to spread awareness of how much food goes to waste every day. From school cafeterias to parties to the Olympics, most do not realize how much food is thrown out. According the the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted.” Bottura, as well as many others, hope to fight this statistic.

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