A Michelin-star chef and his team are cooking around 200 meals a day to help feed needy families across the Algarve.
The initiative, entitled ‘Alimentar a Saúde’ (Feeding Health), is led by chef Rui Silvestre, who earned a Michelin star at restaurant Vistas in Vila Nova de Cacela in 2019.
Thanks to a team of eight who have all volunteered to help, the meals are prepared every day in the kitchen of the Tavira Red Cross Support Centre.
Ingredients are donated “almost exclusively” by Makro, one of Portugal’s largest food suppliers, although the goal is to encourage more companies to donate “good quality products” in order to keep the initiative going for as long as necessary.
The idea came to the chef after Vistas closed due to Covid-19 and the staff was put on a lay off working arrangement.
However, when the team realised there were people who could benefit from their skills, they decided to volunteer, Rui Silvestre told Lusa news agency.
Initially, the plan was to cook meals for hospitals, but the initiative grew when the chef and his team were invited to use the larger kitchen of the Red Cross centre in Tavira, which meant they could also cook for underprivileged families and children.
Some of the meals go to a children’s home run by the Tavira Red Cross, with the remaining being distributed by the Emergency Food Network, created by Portugal’s Food Bank to help those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Every day, the chef and his team prepare menus that include soup, vegetarian, meat and fish dishes and dessert.
The quality of the meals has even been praised by the children supported by the Red Cross who say they “had never tasted so many different flavours”.
“The pandemic has made us all realise how much we need each other,” concluded Rui Silvestre.