Refettorio Felix, Food for Soul
Refettorio Felix was launched in London in 2017, led by Chef Massimo Bottura’s non-profit organisation Food for Soul in partnership with St Cuthbert’s Centre, Kensington. This project works with designer Ilse Crawford and tireless efforts of The Felix Project.
The Felix Project is a movement that is looking at London’s food waste and the increasing issues surrounding food poverty in the Capital and throughout the UK. As a result of this and from an incredible team at Food for Soul, led by the world class, three Michelin starred, Italian chef Massimo Bottura. Refettorio Felix was born, a place where a safe environment has been created where everyone is included, inspired and welcomed.
Massimo Bottura said that “London is a city full of challenges and inequalities, food waste is rampant. There are growing concerns about food poverty and social isolation. Refettorio Felix is not just a place that people come to eat a meal. It is a place for inclusion, engagement and sharing, where everyone can feel welcome and be inspired”
Food for Soul is the The not-for-profit organisation that was founded in 2016 by Massimo with the aim of encouraging those from different creative fields, including chefs, artists, designers, and food suppliers, to collaborate in building and sustaining community projects. Aside from Refettorio Felix in London, its other global projects worldwide include Refettorio Ambrosiano in Milan, Refettorio Gastromotiva in Rio and Refettorio in Paris as well as Social Tables Antoniano and Ghirlandina in Italy. Each project is shaped by the needs of the local community and develops in a sustainable and self-sufficient way.
Refettorio Felix is now serving lunches to around 100 guests a day in the magnificent newly created dining room. This space was previously a standard community hall function room that was tired and lacking inspiration. It has now been totally transformed by one of the projects partners, the designer and creative director Ilse Crawford of Studioilse.
She worked on a pro bono basis and through generous donations from design and furniture companies, sourced all of the tables, chairs, lighting, furnishing, planting and even cutlery and tableware. Volunteers helped to paint and construct the room and create this soothing and calm environment in the unrecognisable St Cuthbert’s Centre.
The third and critical part to Refettorio Felix, is of course, Felix himself. Felix Byam Shaw was a 14 year old boy who sadly died suddenly in 2014 from meningitis. The Felix Project was founded to celebrate this remarkable young man who was known for his compassion and kindness towards others. The Felix Project, now has a fleet of Felix vans, driven by volunteers that collects each morning unwanted and surplus food from supermarkets and delivers it to centres for the homeless and vulnerable. Refettorio Felix is one of these places that benefits from this generosity and helps for the kitchen to function and serve food to its guests each day.
The philosophy of what has been created at Refettorio Felix is summed up by Bottura who says “our guests include both the homeless, and individuals and families in situations of food poverty, food insecurity, and social vulnerability. By using quality tableware and restaurant style service, we want to make each guest feel valued and bring a sense of dignity back to the table. Hospitality can lead to social inclusion through the simple gesture of serving meals at the table and talking”