“A small miracle!” said Massimo Bottura at the press conference of the Refettorio Gastromotiva Cafeteria on the day of its inauguration in Lapa, Rio De Janeiro. He was not referring to the food, but to the construction timeframe of the project, whose 450m2 were constructed in just 55 days.
This combination of restaurant and school is the result of a partnership between Massimo Bottura elected best chef in 2016, the food critic Alexandra Forbes and the NGO Gastromotiva, run by celebrated chef David Hertz. Together they assembled a creative team including Vik Muniz, Maneco Quinderé, the Campana brothers and METRO who were responsible for the architecture, art and design for this new environment.
The Cafeteria was inspired by Masimo Bottura’s ‘Food For Soul’ initiative, which aims to combat global food waste by transforming products that might have been discarded into sophisticated and nutritious meals. The site chosen for the project - between the Lapa Arches and the Aterro Do Flamingo – was donated by the city and has a large homeless population who will be eligible for free dinner as part of the project while paying guests bring revenue during lunch time.
Situated on the edge of a small square and adjacent to one of the city’s main thoroughfares, the restaurant was designed to reinforce connections with these public spaces and the surrounding community. The kitchen occupies the centre of a long and narrow site, 50m in length and 6m wide. A single volume alternates between single and double height spaces and has generous openings onto the road and the neighboring square. The building is clad in translucent polycarbonate panels that ensure that the restaurant feels welcoming and accessible to all.
The material palette is of authentic, industrial materials that are commonly found in the area, resulting in an honest, no-frills aesthetic that celebrates the essential construction elements and services. In this environment chefs were invited from all over the world to create delicious meals with the surplus of the 2016 Olympic Games, offering nourishment with dignity and beauty to people in vulnerable social situations.