RSFP Chefs Take Field Trip to London Community Kitchen

On May 16, the Rome Sustainable Food Kitchen’s Head Chef Fausto Ferraresi and Sous Chef Giorgia Lauri visited London for a “takeover” of a community kitchen called Refettorio Felix that is led by two former RSFP interns.

There, they joined forces with the co–head chefs at Refettorio Felix, former RSFP interns Holly Cook and Georgia Davis, to create a dinner that included a pasta with meat ragù and panzanella. For dessert, surplus ingredients donated by nearby grocers found new life in an apple tart with orange crème anglaise.

Cook and Davis’s journey began amid the flavors of Rome, where they honed their skills at the RSFP, guided by its ethos of sustainable gastronomy. At Refettorio Felix, they craft a daily menu for 120 guests with three-course meals made from donated surplus food. Their guests span a spectrum of need and are united by the simple pleasure of nourishment and companionship.

Color photo of an exterior wall and window of a brick building in London, with five potted plants on the sidewalk

“The philosophies of RSFP and Refettorio revolve around the idea of ‘breaking bread’ together and the importance of bringing together communities by eating together at long communal tables,” said Cook. “At the RSFP Georgia and I learnt a lot about seasonality, provenance of ingredients, and how to cook from the heart. Whilst at Refettorio we don’t have the luxury of being able to source seasonally and locally, we try and bring a similar mindset to the kitchen, giving care and love to simple ingredients.”

Refettoria Felix was created in 2017 as a partnership between the London charity St Cuthbert’s Centre and Food for Soul, the nonprofit founded by Massimo Bottura (who was honored by AAR last year at the McKim Medal Gala). This collaboration has allowed the charitable project to focus on serving restaurant-quality food, often bringing in guest chefs like Ferraresi and Lauri.

“There are many facets of the Refettorio that drew me in,” explained Davis, “but at the core was the idea of serving free three-course meals with dignity to people in an open and welcoming restaurant-style setting.”

“It’s a joy to get creative and see how much the food you are cooking has a profound impact on the vulnerable communities we serve,” she added.

Color photo of kitchen staff placing packaged meals in white plastic bags

The kitchen at Refettorio Felix is not without its challenges. Managing fluctuating ingredients and coordinating volunteers amid a strict schedule requires adaptability and ingenuity. Yet Cook and Davis find joy in their creative freedom, relishing the opportunity to craft new menus daily and explore the bounds of their culinary creativity.

Their vision extends beyond the kitchen walls, with plans for workshops and events to engage the community further. From pasta-making sessions to bread baking, they aim to foster a deeper connection to food and empower individuals to embrace sustainable practices in their own lives.

Cook and Davis’s decision to join the Refettorio shows something of the RSFP’s “cosmic energy,” according to Fausto Ferraresi. “Refettorio can be considered as one of the possibilities to pursue at the end of an internship at the RSFP, but I believe there are many more with the same value and others that I’m sure will be created in the future with the same social impact,” he said, citing Jose Andres’s World Central Kitchen as one example.

The Rome Sustainable Food Project, which was founded in 2006 under the guidance of Alice Waters, provides the AAR community with seasonal, nutritious, and delicious food that nourishes scholarship and conviviality. As a teaching kitchen, it also provides interns with extensive hands-on experience in every aspect of the working kitchen.

Past interns and RSFP-affiliated chefs frequently move on to exciting new roles—from joining Waters at her famed California restaurant Chez Panisse to founding bakeries and new restaurants.

Ferraresi is gratified by the success that Cook and Davis have had in continuing the RSFP spirit as co–head chefs of Refettorio Felix. “I am very proud to see them in this new role. Cooking with them [on this trip] has been like reliving the moments we shared at the Academy, so smooth and relaxed, it felt like we never stopped cooking together.”

Lauri concurred. “Joining Georgia and Holly for an evening of celebration has brought us back in time and reminded us cooking has the capacity to create connections and build relationships that surpass time and space, bringing us all a bit closer.”

Color photo of a person plating dinner in kitchen

Press inquiries

Andrew Mitchell

Director of Communications

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a.mitchell [at] (a[dot]mitchell[at]aarome[dot]org)

Maddalena Bonicelli

Rome Press Officer

+39 335 6857707

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