Top Italian chef to open community kitchen in Paris

Top Italian chef Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana was named the world's best restaurant last year, is in talks to open a community kitchen in Paris that would serve the homeless and other people in need.

Top Italian chef to open community kitchen in Paris
Italian chef Massimo Bottura (centre). Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

“Discussions are under way to set up a canteen in the basement of the Madeleine Church,” Jean-Francois Rial, chief executive of the group Voyageurs du Monde, told AFP Thursday.

“It is still just a project, nothing is done but discussions have been positive with the association” that manages the existing restaurant in the church.

For more than 40 years, the Foyer de la Madeleine, an associative restaurant, has been serving lunch for about 9 euros on weekdays in the vaulted basement of the Madeleine church.

But people in need pay just one euro.

Bottura, along with Rial and French artist JR, is piloting the project under his “Food for Soul” nonprofit organisation which fights food waste and social exclusion.

Born out of an initial project in Milan in 2015, the top chef created his first canteen during the city's expo, with international chefs cooking meals for free from surplus ingredients and serving them to homeless and other
disadvantaged people.

Since then, the group has opened a number of canteens in Italy and recently opened a project in London.

The project in Paris, if successful, would open sometime in March and would serve between 70 to 90 people every night.

“It will not be a soup kitchen but high-quality cuisine, made by chefs trained by French-starred chefs” who will cook from unsold ingredients, Rial said.

Set in the heart of Modena in northern Italy, the Osteria already boasted three Michelin stars before it snapped up first prize at the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards in June 2016 thanks to a creative cuisine that reinvents Italian traditional dishes.


Parents fume over kids singing Arabic word

The choice of a song that contains a word in Arabic, and which will be sung by children attending a Christmas procession this Friday in Modena, has left parents fuming.

Parents fume over kids singing Arabic word
The children will sing the song during a Christmas procession in Modena. Photo: Barlom

Their anger comes 11 years after Una Stella a Betlemme (A Star in Bethlehem) won first prize at Italy’s prestigious Zecchino d’Oro children’s song festival, when it was sung by a Palestinian child, Milad Fatouleh.

The chorus includes the Arabic word ‘Salam’, which means ‘peace’ as well as being a salutation.

It goes: “Salam…Salam or my city…Salam my reality…Salam.”

But the word brought anything but peace to the parents of children at Collodi school in Modena, who, along with children from other schools in the northern Italian city, will sing the song at a Christmas procession later this week.

“My daughter is obliged to pronounce Arabic words, which I don’t think is right,” a father told Il Fatto Quotidiano.

“She made me listen to the song at home, and there were no references to Christmas in it at all.”

The man insisted he’s not racist, despite accusations from other parents.

“I simply do not like to hear my daughter singing words in Arabic or hearing her say ‘Salam’.”

He also lamented the change of teaching methods in the subject of music.

“When I was young, I played the flute…now it's the bongo drums and other African instruments.”

The same tune was sung last year too, deputy head Beatrice Marongiu said, and without so much as a song and dance from anyone.

She blames the climate of fear towards Islam that has reigned since the Paris attacks in November.

The song may have created divisions, but many parents are delighted with the choice, she added.

One mother said: “We are happy that the children will sing this song. It is just a short verse and this controversy is absurd.”