Contract caterer Elior UK is backing Massimo Bottura’s London community kitchen Refettorio Felix with supply drops and extra staff.
The initiative, in St Cuthbert’s Centre in Earl’s Court, transforms surplus food into three-course meals to provide nourishment for vulnerable and isolated people, including rough sleepers, the homeless and those struggling with their mental health.
The venue has served as a drop-in centre for the past 25 years but was reopened in June last year after a six-week makeover as part of the London Evening Standard’s London Food Month festival in partnership with charity the Felix Project.
The Felix Project is named after Felix Byam Shaw, the inspiration for the campaign which aims to tackle food waste and hunger.
Refettorio Felix hosts a lunch service for 60-80 guests from Monday to Friday, all year round.
A list of eminent guest chefs including Monica Galetti, Michel Roux Jr, Jason Atherton and Angela Hartnett joined Bottura, who owns the three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, to cook at Refettorio Felix throughout June last year in an effort to highlight the value of the space, the surplus ingredients and its daily lunchtime guests.
Charlotte Wright, corporate social responsibility manager, Elior UK, said: “Thriving people and communities is one of the four pillars of our CSR strategy, so Refettorio Felix is a natural fit for us.
“However, we’re also committed to achieving zero food waste by 2025. We’re making good progress, which means we actually have very little surplus food to donate. But we’ve found other ways to support Refettorio Felix. It’s such a fantastic initiative, we just had to find a way to get involved.”
Elior is encouraging colleagues to take paid leave and volunteer their services working front of house or in the kitchen. The contract caterer has also hosted several lunches at the venue.
Wright added: “Our suppliers have really stepped up to answer the call, offering everything from carrots and parsnips for Christmas dinner right through to the latest kitchen equipment. Bunzl Lockhart, in particular, has been absolutely fantastic, and recently donated every single thing on the project’s hospitality equipment wish-list. The tableware, cutlery, glassware – everything.”
Elior was first introduced to Refettorio Felix by Patricia Biggers: vice-president of Lazard Asset Management and a trustee of Refettorio Felix and St Cuthbert’s Centre.