“Imagine a school where young chefs are taught to be resourceful with ingredients as they are with ideas. Imagine chefs embracing imperfect, discarded food and treating it with the same reverence they would a rack of lamb or ripe tomato. Imagine changing the perceptions about what is beautiful, nutritious and worthy of being shared.”
This is what Italian chef Massimo Bottura penned in an article on Wall Street Journal earlier today.
The chef of one of the world’s best restaurants, Osteria Francescana, has been one of the main advocates against food waste this year. Bottura has walked the talk by raising awareness about the subject wherever he goes. On the 20th anniversary of his restaurant, he also collaborated with the Catholic charity Caritas Ambrosiana to turn a renovated theatre in Milan into the Refettorio Ambrosiano.
The refectory which feeds Milan’s poor runs on salvaged waste and volunteers and has welcomed some of the world’s best chefs. Over the past months, chefs with household names have all gone to Milan, also on the occasion of the Milan Expo which had as its main theme Feed the Planet to cook in this soup kitchen. And it has been the perfect way of fighting against tradition, misconceptions and perceptions by creating dishes from scraps.
Bottura said that chefs today have a greater social responsibility than ever before. “Celebrity status has allowed some of us to become ambassadors of culture and advocates for artisans, ethics and change. But have we spent enough time and energy considering the waste that results from our work?”
Bottura wrote that cooking is a call to act. “At its best it can unite, revive and restore. As populations grow and food supplies are threatened, we are called to educate and spread ideas that will be the motivational force behind the evolution of our kitchens, our communities and our future. Let us begin by turning our waste—in our homes and our restaurants—into food that’s ethical and delicious. Because something salvaged is something gained.”