FOOD FOR THOUGHT

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Escape News -

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).

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