With a dream of enabling and encouraging disadvantaged youth to develop careers in gastronomy, Terra Madre chef, culinary professor and social entrepreneur David Hertz launched a social enterprise earlier this year, working in the low-income areas of São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city. Buffet Gastromotiva provides culinary training for youth, facilitates students to develop sustainable gastronomic businesses within their communities, and has recently opened its own Slow Food convivium to take the good, clean and fair message into communities.

“We wanted to use food, the universal language of humanity, as a social tool to empower unskilled or disadvantaged youth to become a generation of grass-root entrepreneurs who will then be able to lift their families and communities out of poverty and hunger,” says Hertz. “We wanted to turn this idea into reality.”

Each semester Buffet Gastromotiva offers 30 free places to low-income youth in its kitchen training course, combining lectures, classes, personal development, and technical visits with hands-on training. The students learn kitchen craft based on traditional Brazilian regional cuisine and ecogastronomic concepts and values, with coursework covering broad topics such as cooking techniques, recycling and waste management, biodynamic agriculture, as well as bar and restaurant service. “Buffet Gastromotiva’s mission is to prepare the students for the workplace as well as job placement,” Hertz added. For the best students and entrepreneurs, the organization will offer two university scholarships per year for graduates to go on to further study.

“The professional training course stresses the importance of the role and responsibility of each individual in society, which I believe is one of the keys to enabling today’s youth to be able to actively change their situations and future,” reveals Hertz, who, after traveling the world, settled in Sao Paolo not for the opportunities in his profession, but for the prospect of fulfilling his dream of working with a low-income population in a large city.

Alongside the professional training course, a business incubator has been set up in order to support students to develop sustainable gastronomic entrepreneurial businesses that generate local jobs in poor areas. The incubator is currently working to help a group of women from a local slum start their own catering business, and aims to attract investors to support at least six new businesses a year and generate more than 500 jobs in São Paulo over the next five years.

The organization’s commercial arm, a catering business, reinvests 100% of profits into its non-profit ventures. The business specializes in social and corporate events, and catered for Terra Madre Brazil in March 2010. “As well as a focus on fresh and organic ingredients, we also use endangered Brazilian ingredients, such as Baru nuts and umbu jelly, and are working to develop a sustainable food production chain through collaboration with local small producers.”

The Gastromotiva Convivium created two month ago and lead by students was conceived to bring education and social activities to lower income communities, with a conviction that all people are entitled to good, clean and fair food, regardless of income or background. The convivium will work to bring Slow Food projects, such a sensory education, to local communities.

Buffet Gastromotiva is currently is looking for partners and sponsors for 2011 and 2012 with Brazilian and international organizations.

Its long term of objective is to replicate the model in other Brazilian cities and eventually worldwide, in order to increase its reach in providing opportunity to disadvantaged youth.

Simone Gie
[email protected]

For more information:
David Hertz [email protected]

Slow Food Gastromotiva Convivium
[email protected]

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