Food for Soul announces partnership with Fondazione MATER in the collaboration of Refettorio Geneva

Unexpected opportunities are being born out of the pandemic with unwavering resilience and

collaboration that fills us with hope in anticipation for a better tomorrow.

Geneva, a city that symbolizes the vibrant union of cultures, sciences, finances and arts with a history of dedication to vital social services will become home to a new Refettorio project. Food for Soul, the nonprofit organization founded by chef Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore to build healthier food systems and reduce social vulnerabilities, has partnered to manage operations with Fondazione MATER, a nonprofit organization whose aim is to promote social inclusion through nutrition, access to a balanced diet and food sufficiency for those in need while combating food loss and waste.

How have the organizations come together? MATER has been actively working across the city of Geneva

during 1 year of the pandemic to serve those socially vulnerable. With a network of volunteers and local

chef ambassadors, these efforts nourished the community with over 28K meals, 5000 service hours and

15 tons of reclaimed ingredients. At the helm of the project is Chef Walter el Nagar, who brings his

passion and vision to create social and culinary experiences that bring value and benefit to those

disenfranchised while taking action to improve the health and equity of our food system and reduce

environmental impact. After visiting Refettorio Paris, Walter’s ambition became clear, understanding

Food for Soul’s mission would symbolize for Geneva the future we envision for all, expressing “The

Refettorio will be the nexus of everything beautiful in this city: solidarity, diplomacy, agriculture,

science, innovation and advocacy, everything around good food! Plus it will help fighting prejudice, like

the one that makes Geneva a city free of problems and poverty.”

What to anticipate? Through Food for Soul’s guiding principles the Value of Hospitality, Power of Beauty

and Quality of Ideas, the Refettorio will scale the impact of Fondazione MATER with food and cultural

activities that respond to the needs of today and plant the fruitful seeds of tomorrow. The space is

located at Quartet artisan complex, in the heart of International Geneva, beginning renovations early

Summer with opening in December 2021. The design will bring forward inherent elements of Food for

Soul’s Refettorio projects around the world featuring art, biophilic principles, sustainable materiality and

an aesthetic that is both functional and transformational. “When the call to act is in our heart, we can

achieve our biggest dreams. This is the passion and commitment of our partner MATER and the peaceful nature of Geneva, to care for humanity and to make a revolution as a global family." chef Massimo Bottura.

About the project, Refettorio Geneva

Together, Fondazione MATER and Food for Soul will build on the ecosystem of empathy and compassion

historically known in Geneva, mobilizing community organizations, private and non profit partnerships,

the public and government sectors and volunteerism to scale environmental restorative best practices,

reduce food waste and improve the well-being of those vulnerable. Refettorio Geneva will model Social,

Environmental and Economic Sustainability, offering a daily evening meal with hospitality and

conviviality for those in need of food assistance, experiencing social isolation, homelessness and

marginalization. These efforts started through Fondazione MATER’s community meal initiatives,

preparing approximately 200 nutritious meals packaged and served in the community; transitioning into

the Refettorio dining area once renovations are complete and COVID safety measures allow. The space

will be the backdrop of a MATER social enterprise restaurant concept, opening for lunch five days per

week to the public and the students of the universities. The services will highlight the programs zero

waste food model in a fine dining atmosphere and be an extension of the advocacy and vocational

training programs while sustaining operations that nurture the stability and self-sufficiency for those

experiencing food insecurity. The Refettorio will also be home to supportive and cultural activities that

harness the beauty of it’s design and the city of Geneva through lectures, workshops and art

interventions that cultivate a shared sense of community, placemaking and knowledge.

Food for Soul

Food for Soul is a cultural nonprofit organization advocating for socially responsible actions that improve

the health of our planet and well-being of people. Since the opening of Refettorio Ambrosiano, Milan in

2015, founders Chef Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore have been empowering and mobilizing local

communities to reduce food loss and waste and support social inclusion. Launched in 2016, the mission

of Food for Soul takes aim to change our behavior in how we value, respect and nurture our food system, fostering health, sustainability and equity outcomes through the sharing of knowledge and development of Refettorio projects around the world. Food for Soul is based in Modena, Italy with an affiliate in New York, USA. Through nonprofit collaborations, the organization has launched eight Refettorio projects worldwide in Milan, Modena, Naples, Bologna, London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Merida; and opening new initiatives in North and South America, Canada and Asia.

Fondazione MATER

Fondazione MATER is a non-profit foundation, based in Geneva. The foundation was established in 2020

by chef Walter el Nagar, whose reputation as a chef goes hand in hand with his commitment to social

engagement. The aim of the foundation is to promote social inclusion through nutrition, to provide

access to a balanced diet for vulnerable people or victims of social exclusion, and to combat food waste.

MATER offers high-end contemporary cuisine for all, including those who cannot afford it. It is at the

same time, both a “social and culinary experience”, through selecting local, seasonal produce and

adhering to a zero-waste policy.

Learn more at and,