Three days before opening his Montreal restaurant Candide, chef Jonathan Winter Russell headed to Italy on an assignment to which he couldn't say no.
He was asked to feed refugees, people recovering from drug addiction, former sex workers, and whoever else needed a warm meal with food waste from Milan's 2015 universal exposition, whose theme was "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life."
Winter Russell and fellow countryman Jeremy Charles were invited to rep Canada and cook at Refettorio Ambrosiano, an abandoned theatre from the 1930s converted into a soup kitchen conceived by Osteria Francescana chef Massimo Bottura and Don Giuliano, the parish priest of Greco, one of Milan's poorest neighbourhoods.
Luckily, Canada's National Film Board (NFB) caught wind of the soup kitchen and tagged along to film the characters inside and outside of the kitchen for a documentary called Theater of Life, written and directed by Peter Svatek.
We caught up with Winter Russell at Candide as he whipped up a winter broccoli dish and talked about the takeaway lessons from working on such an ambitious project.
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