Brazilian-born chef and social entrepreneur David Hertz, who pioneered a model for using food to improve the lives of low-income people, is the 2019 recipient of The Charles Bronfman Prize. Hertz co-founded Gastromotiva, a Brazilian-based socio-gastronomic organization that fights unemployment and social inequality and uses food waste as a tool for transformation to “create opportunities for those living on the margins of society,” Hertz explained.
The Charles Bronfman Prize is an annual award of $100,000 presented to a humanitarian under fifty whose innovative work, informed by Jewish values, has significantly improved the world. The Prize was founded by Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman, together with their spouses, Andrew Hauptman and Claudine Blondin Bronfman, to honor their father on his 70th birthday.
Hertz’s experience working in a kibbutz kitchen as an 18 year-old started a journey that inspired him to develop projects to help youth and the vulnerable.
Hertz’s work addresses a critical need. Two billion people in the world suffer from some form of nutritional deficiency. Moreover, he notes, “while a third of food is wasted, we have almost one billion people living with chronic hunger and 200 million unemployed workers around the globe.” Gastromotiva, which he co-founded in 2006, offers a solution. “We provide free vocational kitchen training, entrepreneurial classes and nutrition classes across Brazil, El Salvador, South Africa and Mexico, and we are expanding.”
During the 2016 Olympics, Hertz opened Refettorio Gastromotiva in collaboration with chef Massimo Botura and journalist Alexandra Forbes, in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro. This no-food-waste cooking school and restaurant teaches low-income students how to prepare a nightly 3-course “solidarity dinner” using “delicious, healthy meals made from food surplus that would otherwise go to waste,” he said. These meals are served to vulnerable, often homeless populations, “in a welcoming space that encourages dialogue and companionship.”