MEXICO: Food for Soul, a foundation set up by Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore to feed the poor has announced that together with Palace Foundation it will open the doors to Refettorio Mérida in Mexico.
This is the first North American project which will open to celebrate Mérida’s rich culture and to engage the local community in building a more inclusive and equitable society.
By bringing different people and perspectives together in a welcoming space, the aim of the Refettorio is that of building a sense of community and active participation, that is respectful of the many layers that make up present-day Mérida.
Historically, the city has always been a melting pot of cultures. From the Maya to the Spanish, to more recent migrations from Korea and Lebanon, Mérida’s social fabric is a complex and colourful one.
The semi-isolated nature of the Yucatán peninsula, considered too far and too difficult to reach from other parts of Mexico, meant that the area was able to develop a very strong, well established cultural identity with influences from all over the world – a diversity that will be reflected and celebrated within the walls of the Refettorio.
With the help of Palace Foundation, Food for Soul have restored a historic house in the city centre of Mérida. The house, with its traditional colonial features and great historical value, is the perfect place to welcome the local community in a familiar and comfortable atmosphere. Designed to be much more than a place for people to eat, Refettorio Mérida will be a beautiful and colourful gathering space open to everyone, offering a daily lunch service to people in situations of social vulnerability.
International and local chefs will be invited to share their creativity and expertise and cook delicious and healthy meals for guests, using surplus ingredients.
To celebrate Mexican culture and the equal right of all to beauty, Refettorio Mérida will display artworks by artist Bosco Sodi and others selected by gallerist Jose Garcia Torres. The project aims to be a gift to the city, giving a unique sense of community that respects the many social layers of Mérida. The Refettorio will become a place able to inspire and engage the whole community through cultural programs, volunteering and events.
Chef Massimo Bottura, who created the first refettorio in Milan on the occasion of the Expo 2015 said beauty is the spontaneity of two strangers breaking bread. It is the proud smile of a man who feels he has a place in the world. It is the emotion of the moment and the power to fill a room with the celebration of life.
Beauty is the spontaneity of two strangers breaking bread. It is the proud smile of a man who feels he has a place in the world. It is the emotion of that moment, and its power to fill a room with the celebration of life.Massimo Bottura
Originally, the word Refettorio used to indicate the place inside monasteries where monks would gather together to share their daily meals or where they engaged in community activities such as meetings or games.
The word itself comes from the Latin ‘reficere’, meaning ‘to re-make’, but also ‘to restore’ – be it the body or the soul. Inspired by this idea, the aim behind the ‘refettorio’ is to bring people together to restore dignity and respect, to make communities more resilient and to open opportunities for economic growth.
Food for Soul – inspired by these ancient customs – has created community kitchens where guests in need are served nutritious and nourishing dishes in a convivial atmosphere. These dishes are made with surplus food that would otherwise be wasted, using the power of creativity to transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary and beautiful creations.
Started with the opening of Refettorio Ambrosiano during Expo 2015 in Milan, Food for Soul has opened six other projects since then – Rio de Janeiro, Paris, London, Modena, Bologna and Naples. The opening of Refettorio Mérida is an additional step towards Food for Soul’s mission to bring people together and to fight the double-edged problem of social vulnerability and food waste.