Read Time: 5 Minutes
The Life Of An Event
You may know about Massimo Bottura from the first series of The Chef’s Table from Netflix. You may know a bit more if you read our post on food waste. And now Netflix has leased for streaming a documentary –Theater of Life by Quebec-based filmmaker Peter Svatek, which is focused on Bottura’s effort to feed struggling people with produce that is largely discarded from the food industry. It’s films such as this that give me hope when the evil in the world looms large. Even though the documentary meanders some between their lives and the culinary stars who showcase what can be done with discarded foods, this warts-and-all film might inspire you to work with similar groups in your area. It is staggering to realize that over a billion tons of food is thrown away annually, which is about a third of the food produced world-wide.
Like A Rolling Stone
Using Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone“as a musical backdrop to the lives of homeless people, refugees, and impoverished residents featured in this film makes it even more touching. And in fact, for me, I re-read the lyrics after watching the film, and it resonated quite differently than when I first heard Bob Dylan singing it in 1965.
Like A Rolling Stone is played by one of the homeless protagonists who is wheelchair-bound and accompanied by a homeless woman – a couple forged by mutual needs. Others featured are a recovering drug addict who works in a pychiatric hospital (and volunteers at the Refettorio), a wheel-chair bound Senegalese woman who dreams of becoming a model, a former sex worker with a child, and a Middle Eastern refugee who has access to a car where he sleeps. The difficulty of getting a place in shelter, and the fears of sleeping in one are poignantly underscored.
From An Abandoned Theater To A Movement
An almost visual lightbulb goes off in Massimo Bottura’s head when he looks at the food waste generated from the 2015 Food Expo in Milan. From this flash of light, he and Lara Gilmore team up with a priest dedicated to helping destitute people in his parish to found the Refettorio Ambrosiano in an outlying district of Milan. An abandoned theater (hence the title of the film) is cleaned, a kitchen built, communal tables set with flowers, and art placed on the walls. Volunteers serve and converse with all gathered at the tables. Sharp commentary from the rock star chefs is interspersed with some quite succinct reflections from the featured refugees and homeless folks. Prejudices among the diners are highlighted too.
Alain Ducasse observes that about half the world is overeating, while the rest struggle for not enough. Still, he gives the last word to Bottura, who insists that high-end food needs to be more than aesthetic: “It must have an ethical meaning, too.”
From A Filmed Event To An Organization
“Take the best of the ingredients from every stage of its lifespan. That’s what the real beauty is: to make something valuable out of something that might be seen as not having any value at all.” —