Food for Soul

Massimo BotturaWhen chefs become famous, they usually work to expand their restaurant empire by opening new locations, often in far-flung places. Celebrated chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana, located in Modena, Italy and one of the world's top restaurants, has chosen a different path. Instead of creating more eateries, he is focusing his energy on an initiative to ameliorate the growing problem of hunger

Bottura's wife, Lara Gilmore, is  the president of their joint project Food for Soul, which "aims to promote awareness of hunger and food waste, while also opening ambitious 'community kitchens' for needy patrons." The idea came about during planning for the 2015 Expo Milan, when Bottura offered to make a sustainable contribution to the city. He quickly found other chefs to join him in the endeavor, and opened several refettorio, as the kitchens are called, including one in London.

The project continues to grow, and now Bottura is bringing the concept to the United States. The chef is currently scouting US cities for places to open his Food for Soul locations, and is eyeing the Bronx, Washington DC, Baltimore, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Choosing the right location is crucial, says Gilmore. "It's important for us to evaluate if our model could have a positive impact on the economy and social fiber of those cities. Our model is more radical because it's all about bringing people together to share a meal in a beautiful space, and engaging volunteers to be more physically invested in their communities."

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