“People don’t yet know the potential of food,” says chef and social entrepreneur David Hertz. He’s a champion for the kind of potential that goes far beyond a delicious meal or a memorable experience. Put simply: “Good food is not enough, it also needs to do well to society.”
Hertz founded Gastromotiva, a “socio-gastronomic organization” which empowers disadvantaged people in Brazil’s favelas through learning about food and teaching people how to cook.
He calls it “social gastronomy,” using food as the basis for transforming lives by offering free culinary programs for disadvantaged youth. In turn, those youth (all 1,200 cooks who he has trained through the program so far) are encouraged to go back to their communities to train others. The scheme has a pyramid effect, by engaging people and building a network around food.
The program has seen huge success so far. One of his first trainees now has a catering business that employs 20 people. But not only does it offer education and a career path, it’s also provided the impetus for the development of small community food businesses inside the favelas of Sao Paulo – places that are typically rife with poverty, violence and drug trafficking. The program has also been extended to other socially excluded communities, such as prison inmates and jobless immigrants.
“We’re using food to generate love,” Hertz says. “Food is a community.” He’s right. What a fantastic initiative.