Massimo Bottura at Refettorio Ambrosiano, Milan, 2015

Massimo Bottura’s soup kitchen goes international

After Milan, Bottura aims to open another Refettorio Ambrosiano in Bologna, then Brazil in time for the Games

Massimo Bottura’s Refettorio Ambrosiano is a simple, yet wildly effective undertaking. Back in the summer of 2015 the Michelin-starred chef opened this soup kitchen in the former theatre of the San Martino Parish, Milan, where he and his fellow stars chefs, including René Redzepi, took discarded comestibles from the Milan Expo show ground, re-cooked the food and fed the city’s poor.

Such philanthropic initiatives have been around for centuries, yet rarely do reuse discarded foodstuffs, nor are they run by such high-profile chefs – Bottura’s Modena restaurant, Osteria Francescana, is currently number two on the World 50 Best Restaurants list  – nor do they serve their clientele in such fine surroundings; Italian furniture firm Kartell provided the Refettorio with Victoria Ghost chairs by Philippe Starck for its diners.


René Redzepi and Massimo Bottura with the staff at Refettorio Ambrosiano Milan, June 2015
René Redzepi and Massimo Bottura with the staff at Refettorio Ambrosiano Milan, June 2015

The Expo closed last October, yet Bottura’s scheme is still alive. The Italian press report that Bottura and co. plan to open another Refettorio Ambrosiano in Bologna’s La Mensa dell'Antoniano community kitchen this coming April. This charity canteen opened 60 years ago in this Italian city and serves lunch to around 130 of needy citizens. Bottura will help further this work, while also passing on an important cultural message: food waste is bad, no matter whether you're at the top or the bottom of society.

After Bolonga, Bottura plans to inaugurate an additional Refettorio to serve Rio de Janeiro's favelas this August, in time for the Olympic games, and he's also considering a Refettorio for his hometown of Modena.

Good luck Massimo! For greater insight into this chef’s life and work, take a look at his book Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef, here.