The new Refectory, a gastronomic and solidarity project inaugurated last weekend in Geneva, wants to become a beacon of social, environmental and economic sustainability and offer help to people in fragile conditions by providing healthy, high-quality meals to the needy. The space, located at 120 rue de Lyon in the Charmilles district, is already preparing more than 50 free meals per evening, 5 days a week, and aims at increasing the number of lunches and dinners to reach its daily maximum capacity before the summer. At the same time, the Refectory remains open for paid meals to finance the evening volunteering service. The project was developed to respond to the needs of the local community and to assist marginalised or socially isolated individuals by systematically offering food and art activities to stimulate social, economic and environmental resilience and civic engagement. The Refectory will also have a touristic and cultural value: it will host creative activities aimed at highlighting the artistic and non-artistic beauties of the city of Geneva and will host conferences, meetings and workshops.
The entrance to the Refettorio.
Walter el Nagare and Massimo Bottura.
The behind the scenes and the opening
The official opening of the Refectory was on Friday 28 January, and was coordinated by the organisations behind the project, i.e. the MATER Foundation and Food For Souls, with chefs Walter el Nagar (who will be in charge of the kitchen) and Massimo Bottura. It started with the customary ribbon-cutting ceremony and the introductory speeches, which emphasised the importance of the role of solidarity that the project will play in the entire social context of the city. As stressed by the MATER Foundation, the initiative was launched not only thanks to private patrons, but also thanks to the patronage of the city of Geneva, the Canton of Geneva and the network that the foundation was able to weave with associations active in social aid in Geneva such as Partage, l’Armée du Salut, Le Bateau-Genève, Ma-Terre, Carrewfour-Rue, Caravans Sans Frontiere, Camarada, La farce and Serve the city.
L’intervento di Bottura e il taglio del nastro di el Nagar.
Cittadellarte’s participation with the Demopractic Work
Giulia Pessina (Cittadellarte’s communication manager), Olga Pirazzi (Fashion B.E.S.T. manager), Clara Pogliani (Accademia Unidee) and Francesco Saverio Teruzzi (coordinator of the Rebirth/Third Paradise ambassadors) also took an active part in the ceremony. The opening included in fact the first meeting of the Geneva Demopractic Work – also attended by Bottura and el Nagar –, a project launched thanks to the collaboration between Food for Soul, Accademia Unidee, MATER Foundation and Cittadellarte. The Demopractic Work consists in a methodology aimed at triggering and uniting the individual territorial practices of direct commitment to the transformation of society in a responsible sense, integrating them towards the construction of proposals for sustainable policies. The discussion took place around the work called I Tavoli del Terzo Paradiso (The Tables of the Third Paradise), which was unveiled on the day and stands as a demopractic device conceived by Cittadellarte and born of the collaboration of Michelangelo Pistoletto and Francesco Saverio Teruzzi. The meeting between Food For Souls and Cittadellarte should also be mentioned: thanks to the network woven by Clara Pogliani of Accademia Unidee, Walter el Nagar had the opportunity to learn about the Art of Demopraxy in detail; sensing its effectiveness and potential, he has decided to start a project process connected to the Refectory together with Fondazione Pistoletto.
From the left: Clara Pogliani, Olga Pirazzi, Giulia Pezzina.
Saverio Teruzzi with Massimo Bottura.
Sustainable fashion meets solidarity
Cittadellarte’s participation is not limited to the Demopractic Work, but is also expressed through the work of its Fashion Office. Fashion B.E.S.T., in fact, with the collaboration of fashion designer Flavia La Rocca, designed and produced the uniforms that will be worn by the Refectory staff of cooks, waiters and volunteers. The uniforms are a series of specially-design models, specifically 4 kimono jackets¹ for the cooks, 8 full overalls² for the dining room staff and 15 aprons³ for the volunteers. The fabric used to make the uniforms is a denim by Berto Industria Tessile made of cotton, linen and TENCEL™ from Lenzing; the company that produced the fabric and supported the project is part of the Fashion B.E.S.T. platform and produces through a traced and certified Italian supply cha
Saverio Teruzzi’s comment
“First of all,” said Saverio Teruzzi, “I would like to stress the importance of Accademia Unidee and the second edition of the Master in Design, Creativity and Social Practices (enrolment for the third one is currently active), which have given us the opportunity to come into contact with Food for Soul, to get to know each other and recognise the many points we have in common. I want to quote the words of Jill Conklin, strategic development officer for Food for Soul: we want the Demopractic Work to accompany us in all our locations around the world; Geneva is and will be an example to follow. To conclude, I would like to mention that Massimo Bottura told us how, when talking about light in his courses, he borrows concepts from art and contemporary art, starting from Piero della Francesca and arriving at Michelangelo Pistoletto. I would also like to thank the staff of Geneva’s Refectory and MATER Foundation, from Walter el Nagar to Rina Gjinali and Jimmy Thiebaud: thank you for involving us in this great adventure”.
¹ A deconstructed jacket that follows the movements of the wearer, made of 100% natural fabric supported with soft elastic at the bottom of the sleeve.
² Made of 100% natural fabric with a front buttoning and a system for adjusting the waist; it has internal elastic bands on the hems of sleeves and trousers that allow both of them to be tightened at the bottom for a more dynamic use.
³ Made of 100% natural fabric with pocket/pockets and ties; the apron can be split so that only the lower part can be worn.