Ozharvest founder Ronni Kahn and celebrated Italian chef Massimo Bottura joined forces to create the first Australian Refettorio in 2022, a 50-seat space in Surry Hills that provides free three-course vegetarian lunches to those in need of food assistance, using ingredients diverted from landfill by Ozharvest.
Meaning “to re-make” or “restore” in Latin, the Refettorio concept was designed by Bottura's not-for-profit organisation Food For Soul to cater for individuals experiencing food insecurity in a safe and welcoming environment. The model has been successfully replicated all over the world, and Kahn is the first to bring it to Australia.
The space – a 100-year old Victorian terrace on Crown Street – was gifted to Ozharvest by a generous donor, and a team of more than 100 individuals donated time, expertise and materials to the project, free of charge.
The result is a warm and inviting space, split across two levels and flooded with natural light. An interior design by Frost Collective exposes the building’s original brickwork, which is offset by sleek Italian-style tables and chairs donated by James Richardson Furniture.
Contemporary Aboriginal artworks by ngangkari, or traditional healers in Anangu culture, donated from the APY Art Centre Collective line the walls. The impressive hanging-basket light installation in the dining room was woven by Harriet Goodall, and speaks to the theme of harvest.
To make the Refettorio as fair as possible, Ozharvest uses an invitation system, where charitable partners are welcomed to book the space each day to feed their clients. Places are kept free for walk-ins.
The Ref is also open to the general public fortnightly on a Thursday evening, where guests can book in and pay for a set three-course dinner. The cost of the meal goes towards funding the space's all-important daytime function.
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