Massimo Bottura's Food for Soul Is Expanding to North America

Food for Soul will open a refettorio, or community kitchen, in Mérida, Mexico, later this month.

Massimo Bottura Food for Soul Merida Mexico
Photo: The Felix Project

Since 2015, Food for Soul, the nonprofit organization founded by Massimo Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore, has been opening community kitchens around the world to help feed people in need. Known as refettorios, the operations take surplus foods and turn them into nutritious meals, with locations already established in Europe and South America. This year, the project is officially expanding to North America — and the first outpost will be in Mexico.

On March 2, Palace Resorts announced a new partnership between Fundación Palace, its philanthropic institution, and Food for Soul for a forthcoming refettorio in Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatán. The new location will open on March 25 at Casa Santa Luisa, a historic house that formerly belonged to Yucatecan philanthropist Pedro Canales — every Monday through Friday, volunteers will serve a three-course lunch to vulnerable members of the community. The refettorio is also intended to be a gathering space, and will feature artwork from Bosco Sodi, a Mexican contemporary artist, as well as picks from José García Torres, the director of Mérida-based José Garcia Gallery.

"We can't wait to start this new adventure with an excellent partner as Fundación Palace, paying homage to Yucatecan culture and flavors," Bottura said in a statement. "This is an opportunity to build a world where food is not wasted and people are treated with dignity."

Mérida is just the beginning of Food for Soul's expansion into North America this year — Bottura previously told Food & Wine refettorios are planned for downtown San Francisco and Harlem, as well. He also opened his first-ever restaurant in the U.S., Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura Beverly Hills, last month in Beverly Hills. The menu includes signatures like tortellini with 36-month Parmigiano-Reggiano (from Modena, of course) and the Emilia burger, along with dishes like the "Noah's Ark pâté," a concept Bottura said is evolving all the time based on what he has in the kitchen. (Again, to combat food waste.) An additional Gucci Osteria location will open in Tokyo's Ginza area.

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