A chef brings people together
When David Hertz was young, he felt he did not fit in. He was unhappy and unsure of how he should live. He felt different from his family and friends.
He travelled, became a gourmet chef, then he found his place.
David started a global movement that is sharing meals, skills and, above all, community spirit. He also fights food waste, which is hurting people and the planet. This month he won the Bronfman prize, a big international award for people who help others.
When he was 19 and unsure what to do in life, David left Brazil, where he grew up. He lived in over 10 countries. He found he loved cooking. After he came home, he became a chef in a restaurant for gourmets(you say it goor-mays). Do you know what that is? A gourmet is someone who likes posh dinners.
Then, by chance, he visited a favela – where poor Brazilians live, often without tap water or electricity. It was just a few miles from where he made fancy meals for rich diners. In the favela, he met Uridéia.
She was 19, the same age David was when he went off to see the world. She had no money. She couldn’t travel or dream of eating in David’s restaurant. She couldn’t afford college to help her get a decent job.
David decided to teach her. He has ended up teaching thousands of other poor youngsters how to cook well.
That doesn’t just help them make money. Cooking connects us to our own basic natures, David says, and “builds bridges” as we sit down to eat and share a moment with family, friends or strangers.
Uridéia now employs 20 other people and most importantly, says David, has found “joy and pride”.
The thousands of people taught to cook by David’s organisation are not the only ones to benefit. He and a famous Italian chef run several restaurants, in Brazil and Italy but also in London and Paris.
These restaurants are special. The meals are top quality in really lovely places. And they are totally free. Do you know why? Because David and his friends invite only homeless and very poor people.
Do you know how? They use some of the 30% of food that goes to waste in the world every day and because the work is done by generous chefs like David and by students, who need real practice.
These restaurants show how good things can lead to more good things. David sees several problems: people with no jobs who feel cut off from the community; homeless people who are hungry and feel left out; and tonnes and tonnes of good food thrown away every day. The restaurants neatly help all of those problems. It is a beautiful idea.
“What I’ve learned,” says David Hertz, “Is that when we are all connected, we can feel love and respect. “And with food we can transform millions of lives.”