Massimo Bottura and his “no waste” manifesto

The Refettorio Ambrosiano is a soup kitchen that used the excess from the Expo Milano 2015, where Massimo Bottura invited different chefs to cook for one or two days. For the lunchtime service, nearby schools were invited and dynamics were held to explain the project and raise awareness among children about world hunger, waste and recovery. At dinnertime, 80 homeless people were fed, and they were also part of a three-month social reintegration programme with Caritas Ambrosiana: they had a social worker and they were offered the chance to sleep in a shelter. They each had ID to get in, from Monday to Friday, from 6.30 pm to 7.45 pm. There was only one shift in which at least one starter, one main course and one dessert were served.

The word "refettorio" comes from the Latin "reficĕre", which means to restore. The idea behind the Refettorio is for the guests to have a period to restore their lives, hence the Caritas Ambrosiana programme, and the possibility to come for 3 months, which could be extended to one year. This idea also spread to the canteen service as 5 volunteers served the tables every night, so the service was personalised. And the fact that there was no rush to leave and no other shift, meant that the guests had two hours of the day when the aim was to make them feel at home.

The Refettorio Ambrosiano operates in the abandoned Greco theatre, a lower middle class area of Milan, near the main train station where homeless people traditionally sleep. In addition, there is a Caritas Ambrosiana shelter nearby, San Martino, which does not have a soup kitchen available on the premises or in the neighbouring area. The space was renovated by the Polytechnic University of Milan and with the collaboration of Davide Rampello, 13 designers were invited to participate to create the tables and five artists who each donated a work of art.