Cooking Is An Act of Love

How our greatest potential lies in joining forces

Hombre FarmFood for Soul

In May 2012, northern Italy was shaken by two overlapping magnitude-6 earthquakes, with their epicenter 28 miles east of Modena. Among the damages, local farmers counted 360,000 wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that had fallen off the high shelves and crashed to the ground.

The recipe of ‘Risotto Cacio e Pepe’ was the instinctive response of Massimo Bottura and the Osteria Francescana team to the tragedy that their community was experiencing, it was a concrete way to help producers get back on their feet and to avoid tonnes of cheese from going to waste.

Riso Cacio e pepe by Massimo BotturaFood for Soul

"There, I learned that a recipe can be an act of solidarity and a social gesture. I understood the power of food and the important role that chefs can play in society.” - Massimo Bottura

Massimo Bottura, Refettorio Ambrosiano 2015Food for Soul

Three years later, when Refettorio Ambrosiano opened in 2015, Massimo wanted to gift a special moment to the guests who had come to eat - the warmth of a cup of milk, the sweetness of a pinch of sugar, and the familiar fragrance of a slice of bread to recreate a happy memory from his childhood and to send a message of solidarity.

Stale breadFood for Soul

“Every morning over breakfast my brothers and I fought for the leftover pieces of bread from the previous night to dip in warm milk with a splash of coffee. We called this mess zuppa di latte, milk soup. But how could I have known at the time that Bread is Gold would take on a much deeper meaning than the recipe itself? That a recipe would become the anthem under which we chanted the unsung values of recovering recipes and all those discarded, undervalued, and neglected ingredients that have always played a central role in the Italian kitchen?” – Massimo Bottura

Bread is Gold by Massimo BotturaFood for Soul

“Bread is Gold is a metaphor for giving value to the simplest things in life that we often overlook. Such as the milk soup recipe that I grew up with, like many other Italian children, or the recipes that use day-old bread created by the chefs at Refettorio Ambrosiano. Bread is Gold is a way of looking at the world, looking at your pantry and finding inner beauty in the humblest ingredient.” - Massimo Bottura.

Mint and breadcrumb pesto by Massimo BotturaFood for Soul

One day, during one of the first services at Refettorio Ambrosiano, the big fridge where surplus ingredients used to be stored was surprisingly empty.

There weren’t enough ingredients for a classic Ligurian pesto - a mixture of basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano cheese, and olive oil - so Massimo, and the rest of the Osteria Francescana team, added other aromatic greens, like mint. Then when it turned out that there were no pine nuts, he said: “What about breadcrumbs?”

He grated hard bread and sautéed the crumbs in olive oil, placed the ingredients into a blender, added ice to keep the fragile but vibrant greens from overheating and tasting bitter, and whipped it into the texture and color of the classic recipe.

Passatelli by Massimo BotturaFood for Soul

The Italian cuisine offers an almost infinite number of recipes using breadcrumbs, from savory to sweet.

One of the most popular recipes from Modena, Passatelli, comes from Cucina Povera, the tradition of making great food with simple and available ingredients without wasting anything. And that’s how breadcrumbs, eggs and Parmesan cheese can be turned into a soul-warming bowl of noodles in broth.

Pasta e fagioli by Francesco VincenziFood for Soul

Chef Francesco Vincenzi

By revisiting some of the most popular recipes of Cucina Povera, we are able to take what our grandparents taught us about respecting food and apply it to the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our time.

In this revisitation of Pasta e Fagioli, Francesco Vincenzi, Chef at Franceschetta58, used Le Curve di Pasta Lunga - a new shape of pasta by Food for Soul and Pastificio Agricolo Mancini obtained from the part of the pasta that rests on the rack during the drying process and that is usually discarded in the making of some of our favourite long pasta shapes.

Zucchini, asparagus, pecorino sauce and aromatic herbs by Francesco VincenziFood for Soul

By learning to shift our diet to more environmentally friendly foods and by eating more vegetables, grains, cereals, seeds, legumes and nuts we can contribute to building a more sustainable food system that respects biodiversity and seasonality.

This vegetarian recipe by Chef Francesco Vincenzi is the perfect example of an easy way to make the most out of simple ingredients.

Jessica Rosval, Chef at Casa Maria LuigiaFood for Soul

Cooking is an Act of Love, for people and the planet. Since the opening of Osteria Francescana in 1995, the family has grown to welcome many more realities and it's now a multi-coloured ensamble of experiences, perspectives and dreams.

The simple gesture of preparing a nourishing meal and share it with those around us in a place of grace and dignity, speaks to the soul and empowers transformation.

Matzah ball soup' By Jessica RosvalFood for Soul

Chef Jessica Rosval

Originally from Canada, Jessica Rosval-Chef at Casa Maria Luigia-shared the recipe for her mum’s Matzah ball soup.

Starting from the most flavorful roast turkey or chicken, she demonstrates that one meal can be turned into two and that simple ingredients can become something even more special if we learn to appreciate their potential.

Pappa al pomodoro by Bernardo PaladiniFood for Soul

Chef Bernardo Paladini

Born in Rome, Bernardo has spent many years working in Modena before moving to Dubai last year, where he is now Chef at Massimo Bottura’s Torno Subito restaurant.

Despite being miles away from Italy, Bernardo’s Pappa al Pomodoro smells and tastes like home and family.

7x7 = 49 by Davide di FabioFood for Soul

Sous Chef Davide Di Fabio

Davide Di Fabio has been Massimo Bottura’s sous-chef in the kitchen of Osteria Francescana for years, but he still feels very much connected to its Abruzzese roots.

In Teramo, Abruzzo, every year on the 1st of May people prepare a dish known as Le Virtù - after the Easter celebrations, people clean out their pantries of whatever hasn’t been used in winter to make room for the new harvest.

What to do, then, with the different legumes, mixed pasta cuts and dried herbs that are left? The result of this formula is a soup able to use up the ‘old’ by adding it to the ‘new’.

Pollock by Karime LopezFood for Soul

Chef Karime López

Through art Karime López, chef at Gucci Osteria di Massimo Bottura, is able to transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary meals.

For Karime, art has the power of restore dignity and value, and to enable transformation. Pollock is a colorful recipe that speaks about the power of beauty and art to transform traditional ingredients into an incredible dish.

Japanese broth by TakaFood for Soul

Sous Chef Takahiko Kondo

In the Japanese culture, broth
is very important. Welcoming a guest with a bowl of hot broth is part of my culture: it opens the stomach but also the heart.”
Takahiko Kondo, originally from Tokyo, is Massimo Bottura’s sous chef.

Panettone soufflé by Massimo BotturaFood for Soul

Chef Massimo Bottura

The Panettone Soufflé is just an example of what can be done with familiar flavours repurposed to create something new. This recipe highlights the knowledge behind nostalgic memories, and the potential and beauty of new traditions.

Christmas bread by Food for SoulFood for Soul

It doesn’t matter what ingredients we have available: sometimes the most diverse ones, if combined with love, can result in something beautiful and unexpected.

The peculiarity of this dessert is that the filling ends up being different in each slice making each bite unique.

Just like our team, where different stories and personalities meet to achieve a common goal: transforming awareness into action.

Tortellini with boiled meat filling by Lara and CharlieFood for Soul

“Our son Charlie has a rare genetic syndrome. Despite his challenges, he has become an expert pasta maker along with a group of special needs young adults. The Tortellante Project brings together diverse ages and abilities around the table to safeguard the Modenese pasta making tradition. We have learned that the more diversity there is around the table, the more Love (and Tortellini) there will be. Cooking is an act of Love.” - Lara Gilmore

Refettorio ParisFood for Soul

Every day, Refettorio chefs repurpose surplus produce donated by markets, supermarkets and food producers to create nutritious and delicious recipes for their guests.

These are some of their best ones - different ingredients, techniques, flavours but the same underlying message: Cooking is an act of love.

Meatballs with tomato sauce by Sabrina RussoFood for Soul


Meatballs, as simple as they seem, have the power to bring together: ingredients, traditions and, most importantly, people. They are the perfect mix of cultures, family recipes and personal taste.

Sabrina Russo, Chef and Project Manager at Refettorio Made in Cloister, is used to preparing them for the guests of the project, helping them to feel welcome and at home.

Raw peanut chocolate slice by Cleo MelvinFood for Soul


Cleo, Head Chef at Refettorio Felix, likes to prepare this delicious dessert for the guests using only surplus ingredients.

Guests love when Cleo makes ice cream or cake, not a single crumb is left on the plates!

Spring vegetables risotto by Andrea BandieriFood for Soul

Spring vegetable risotto

Andrea, the young assistant Chef at Refettorio Ghirlandina in Modena cooks every Monday night for the guests with the surplus ingredients donated by the local Albinelli market.

Wonky zucchini, overripe cauliflowers and wrinkled peppers are the unsuspecting ingredients of this delicious spring vegetable risotto that can be easily replicated at home with what’s left in the fridge.

Turmeric bread by JohnnyFood for Soul

Turmeric Bread

The Refettorio Antoniano are not only a place to eat, but also a space for children and their families to spend time together and play.

Now regular Chef of the project, Johnny himself was once a guest of the Refettorio Antoniano where he learnt to make bread. His famous turmeric bread, which he makes specifically for the children by adding a touch of turmeric to the dough, is as fragrant and flavourful as it looks.

Crab with crunchy vegetables and corsican lemon bisque by Solène GallardFood for Soul

Chefs Maxime Bonnabry-Duval and Solene Gallard

According to their guests, food at Refettorio Paris is “art on a plate”. Maxime and Solene, the two talented Chefs who work in the kitchen of La Madeleine have indeed a way of turning surplus food into delicious works of art, which restore people’s bodies and souls.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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