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Culinary Cinema: Leftovers/Reviews
by Mary Nyiri

Theater of Life
Peter Svatek, Canada

Food that is wasted is enough to feed the hungry. There are reasons too numerous to list here for the waste, but some examples include simply being leftover (like day-old bread), spoiling (improper storage, lack of transport, loss of market), damage in shipping, or just being a day past the “sell by” date. Various groups and organizations are trying to collect perfectly edible food that is being wasted in order to feed those in need. Every country, state or city seems to have its own regulations that make actually eating such food complicated or impossible. But for Massimo Bottura, the charismatic Michelin star Italian chef from Osteria Francescana Restaurant, where there is a will, he will find a way. For Expo Milano 2015, rather than prepare gourmet meals for the elite, Massimo suggested using leftover food to serve in a soup kitchen. He wanted to bring together the two completely different worlds. In Theater of Life, director Peter Svatek follows this social experiment from start to the beginning of a long-term commitment to feed the poor and homeless. The documentary captures top chefs from around the world creating gourmet meals that are served in an abandoned theater-cum-restaurant for local people who don’t have enough to eat. Several of the satisfied (and one almost satisfied-the portions were never enough!) customers speak openly about their life on the streets. The chefs eagerly face the challenges of creating delicious meals from whatever happens to come in that day. The Refettorio Ambrosiano is a success. Massimo is rightfully very pleased, “This is not charity. It is culture.”