Saturday, October 22, 2016

Planet in Focus - Theatre of Life

My two favourite things in life are Film and Food.  I got to enjoy both of them together at the Opening Night Gala at the Planet in Focus Film Festival.  The Opening Night film at the Bloor Cinema was Theatre of Life, a film about food waste and the people that are less fortunate and effects and solutions made by the Vatican, Chefs, Designers and Artists.  The film was introduced by local Chef Jamie Kennedy and there was a Q&A afterward with local Chef Activist Joshna Maharaj and Director Peter Svatel.

Michelin star Italian Chef chef Massimo Bottura had an idea for a Soup Kitchen and mentioned it to a colleague and then it turned into a whole other thing that brought the World's Top Chefs from around the world to a Gourmet Soup Kitchen in Italy during their Milano Expo 2015.
Peter Svatel
Director Peter Svatel captures the contrast when Celebrity Chefs who's restaurants  can command hundreds of dollars for their meals decide to feed people who are at the other end of the economic spectrum.

Chef Bottura's idea was to repurpose leftover food from the Milan Expo that was donated to the Refettorio Ambrosiano Soup Kitchen. and an army of amazing volunteers and Top Chefs would create gourmet dinners for 100 less fortunate people.

Celebrity chefs such as Rene Redzepi, Ferran Adria, Mario Battali, Alain Ducasse and many others travelled to Milan and took over the kitchen to develop their own spin on the "surplus" food that was rescued each day, mostly things like stale bread and lots of bananas, it would change each day so the chefs needed to be creative with the ingredients.

The film profiles some of the displaced people that the Refettorio feeds as well as the people involved in making it happen.  There is an Italian homeless couple that prefers to sleep in a train station than stay in a shelter.  Another man looks for places to stay but sometimes sleeps in his car that he can no longer afford to pay insurance for.  There are refugees and people with disabilities and those who have just fallen on hard times.  A free meal won't change someone's life, but will provide a chance to meet new people and to have a great meal, a little joy, and a piece of cake.

This small idea from Bottura turned into a movement to use Food Waste to feed people who could not afford to buy food.  Bottura and his wife created a foundation to be able to do more around the world.

Food waste in some places, from farm to table, can sometimes average about 50%.  Half the world is living in poverty, and it makes sense to use some of this waste food to feed hungry people.  It won't fix their life but it will certainly help their quality of life.

They take the Soup Kitchen template to RIO to do it all over again.

I also attend the Opening night party at the 918 Cultural Centre on Bathurst- lovely space. Photos by the films photographer were on sale to raise funds for the foundation.

In keeping with the film's theme, the Opening Night Gala Party featured appetizers made by The Stop Community Food Centre using surplus food donated from the Master Chef TV production.

The film and the gala were really connected to the whole concept of Food Waste, using resources properly to sustain the environment in the world.   Well done Planet in Focus.

You can find out more about Bottura's foundation "Food for Soul":

"Cooking is a Call to Act" - Massimo Bottura

I think that this is the model that should be developed for every large event that generates surplus food.  In Toronto we have Second Harvest that works with local restaurants and others to rescue food and I think it would be great to get amazing chefs involved to elevate the surplus food to feed those in need.  It' would be a win-win situation to ensure long-term sustainability of our food sources.

PLANET IN FOCUS Festival runs from October 18-23, 2016.

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