What is food waste, or better, what is the impact of food waste?
The project that saw Massimo Bottura and a host of the world’s best chefs come together to tackle that question at the world fair in Milan, 2015 is now live on Netflix. Theatre of Life is however, something more than “another food show.”
Be warned; it will make you cry.
“In 2015 there will be the world’s fair. The world’s fair. But the fundamental question is… what is the Expo? What does the theme ‘to feed the planet’ mean? To me, feeding the planet means something deeper than taking a piece of bread and chewing on it. Expo to me is seeing the waste and combatting that waste.” Massimo Bottura.
The origins of the idea came over a coffee between Massimo Bottura, his wife Lara Gilmore and another of the world’s most elite chefs, Rene Redzepi whilst drinking a coffee. In turn, this set of a chain of events that brought together a church, an abandoned theatre, an enigmatic priest, the cardinal of Milan, a creative director, and of course, the world’s best chefs who the clientele didn’t know who they were. Together, they created Refettorio Ambrosiano.
The star of the film isn’t Bottura, although he, his wife, the chefs who are like the modern day renaissance artists or better, the folk figures of Greenwich Park of the 1960s; your Dylan’s, Belafonte, Burl Ives, Odetta’s that amiably weave you from one passage to another in this mesmerising story but shun the attention, the real stars are the people that they are helping that have a simple need in life; a good plate of food.
Because, as you will discover, food is more than that which you consume; it can nurture the spirit and the soul going on to do so much more. Food is life’s theatre.
It’s about, Stefi who makes bracelets that opens the documentary with a monologue worthy of Guthrie and to be only disrupted by a train catching her and the director off hand with a dramatic effect. Giorgio, who turned to heroin at a young age, Christiana, a Nigerian refugee fleeing for her own life and subsequently trafficked as a prostitute, Fawaz looking for a bed. It’s about them, a sample of some of the struggles we, humanity, face today, and seeing a way to help, through the idea of food.
That is the very simple message that Chef Massimo and his contemporaries are doing. If you’re looking for orgasmic photography, a Chef’s Table like experience; forget it. That is what this documentary isn’t about. It’s about creating something that will go on to inspire, something that will make you think about your own food waste and something that will make you think, “how can I help?”
So how do you tackle the question, the impact of food waste on society? Maybe by being inspired by the refettorio itself, a theatre “filled with the beauty of art, the beauty of design and the beauty of ideas.”