London Food Month: Restaurant giants launch community kitchen with 40 Michelin stars

Top team: (from left to right) Clare Smyth, Monica Galetti, Michel Roux Jr, Jason Atherton and Massimo Bottura
Top team: (from left to right) Clare Smyth, Monica Galetti, Michel Roux Jr, Jason Atherton and Massimo Bottura

A stellar roster of “super-chefs” boasting more than 40 Michelin stars have signed up to work in a London community kitchen for vulnerable people.

Some of the biggest names in London’s culinary world including Monica Galetti, Michel Roux Jr, Jason Atherton, Clare Smyth, Angela Hartnett and Nuno Mendes have volunteered to work a shift at Refettorio Felix this summer.

More than 30 chefs will cook lunch for homeless and vulnerable people using surplus food from supermarkets sourced by the Felix Project charity. Each will improvise menus based on what ingredients are available on the day, and work from 8am until the lunch sitting is finished at 2pm, when they will sit down and eat with volunteers.

The aim is to serve more than 2,000 meals using five tonnes of food. The idea — a centrepiece of the Evening Standard’s London Food Month — was conceived by Italy’s three-Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura. It is based on similar “refectories” set up by his Food for Soul charity in Milan and Rio de Janeiro.

Mr Bottura will be the chef in the community kitchen when it opens at a still undisclosed location on June 5. Each of the other volunteers will run the kitchen for a day through to early July.

The second day will be supervised by one of the world’s most decorated chefs, Alain Ducasse, along with his executive chef at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, Jean-Philippe Blondet.

Other confirmed names include Ashley Palmer-Watts of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal; The Ledbury’s Brett Graham; Claude Bosi, who ran Mayfair’s Hibiscus until last year; and Daniel Boulud, the restaurateur who runs Bar Boulud in Knightsbridge.

The Felix Project, inspired by Felix Byam Shaw, is backed by the Evening Standard’s campaign to tackle food waste and hunger.

It will supply the ingredients, which otherwise would have ended up as waste, to Refettorio Felix.

Volunteer Francesco Mazzei — who is chef patron at Mayfair’s Sartoria and opens new venue Radici in Islington this month — said: “One of the first things you are taught when learning to cook is not to waste food so this is something I take very seriously. The war against waste is a fight we should all be involved in — not just chefs but everyone of all backgrounds and ages.”

​Atherton added: “It’s great to work with Massimo and support his vision for Food for Soul. Food waste is a big issue across our industry and this pro-ject will tackle it in a practical way.”

Bottura said: “I believe we, chefs, can illuminate the most pressing issues facing society. Cooking is a call to act.”

After the month-long festival Refettorio Felix will continue to serve meals, prepared by two resident cooks with assistance from more guest chefs.