FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Who better to banish memories of the traditional soup kitchen – tired canteen, bland broth – than the cheerfully Michelin-starred, Modena-based chef Massimo Buttura and queen of colourful conviviality, ELLE Decoration favourite Ilse Crawford. With an ambition to ‘transform lives through great food and design’, they have created Refettorio Felix, a canteen serving delicious homemade meals to the homeless in a beautifully converted church in west London’s Kensington. Bottura’s charity, Food For Soul, started life as a pop-up diner during Milan’s Expo 2015, as an antidote to the fine dining industry, before becoming a permanent fixture in a disused theatre in the city’s struggling Greco district. Chefs and friends were lined up to take it in turns to cook evening meals for refugees, and the same premise was rolled out to Rio for the 2016 Olympics as Refettorio Gastromotivo.
Now, Refettorio has come to Britain – it’s working in collaboration with The Felix Project, a food waste organisation that supplies it with leftover produce from supermarkets and wholesalers every other day. This might result in a splendid pappardelle pasta with wonky heritage tomatoes and offcuts of Parmigiano Reggiano, or stewed plums from New Covent Garden Market’s surplus. Mylands contributed the pistachio paint for the dining room walls, while brands such as Vitra and Artemide donated furniture and lighting. Studioilse designed the space pro bono – as Crawford said of the project, ‘ beauty has no boundaries and is a universal human right’. The kitchen is so smart and the dining space so beautiful that Refettorio earns its keep by being available to hire. Weekday lunch is served every day from 12.30 until 2pm – visit the venue to volunteer, or head to the website to donate to the cause (refettoriofelix.com).