A Masterpiece of Food Waste: sObres Mestres

By Christina Hanson

Nikoletta Theodoridi will host her second food waste pop-up dinner in Barcelona in January. The Greek lightning designer started this initiative to reduce the amount of wasted food from markets and farms, by using it for dinners for an affordable price. Her dream is to set up sustainable food waste canteen: sObres Mestres.   

Nikoletta Theodoridi Credit: Yiannis Soulis

‘Once, when I was in London visiting an expo, a friend of mine invited me to an exchange dinner in the city. Apparently, a very nice dinner made from surplus food – which is the excess of products that markets have in the end of the day. Like bread that hasn’t been sold.

So, I joined this dinner in London and it was great. It was a wonderful, very tasty dinner hosted in a very nice place. We paid an amount of money corresponding to the prices you would normally pay in a restaurant. At the dinner, we were told how much food was being wasted in the world every day, which made me aware of the problem. For me it was very clear that we had to find solutions trying to solve these problems, and I thought that the initiative of the waste dinner was a wonderful idea.

So, I returned to Barcelona and I decided that I wanted to do something about food waste as well. I explored what was happening in the city and I found different associations working with sustainability. Shortly after, I started volunteering with different organisations. First, I joined the Espigoladors, where I started gleaning. Gleaning is when you go to a field to collect fruits and vegetables that the farmer can’t commercialize – fruits and vegetables that are either too small, too strange, or just too much. So, with the Espigoladors the volunteers recollect vegetables and fruits, for 2 or 3 hours in the fields once or twice a month. 90% of the products that are collected is donated to associations and the last 10% is made into jam and vegetable pate – called Imperfect. These products are the first Spanish food-waste products.

Sobres Metres
Credit: Jordi Flores

Afterwards I collaborated with Nevera Solidaria, which is another organization focusing on food waste. They put a fridge in a public space, often on small markets, and in these fridges people can leave the things the food they don’t need. This means that anyone can go and get the things that people leave in the fridge. It’s a very nice idea when you have a smaller number of products that you don’t need. I also joined other organizations like PAA (Plataforma Aprofitem els Aliments) and Espai Ambiental. With them we would throw feasts in public places, made of surplus food that we got from local markets, bakeries and through Espigoladors. With these feasts, we would cook for a lot of people for free with the aim of raising awareness on much food that is being wasted every day.

I admire the work that these associations do. So, I decided to join the fight against food-waste with my own personal project, since I think we need to do something about food-waste every day, and not just once or twice a year. So, I participated in a large workshop called “Design the restaurant experience”, where I decided to design my project. I decided that I would like to have a nice restaurant, based on low cost and waste food daily. But since I normally work as lightning designer, I couldn’t combine this. Instead, I decided to make a pop-up restaurant with events each or every second month.

That’s how sObres Mestres started. I had my first event in October at Rasoterra Restaurant and I will have the second one at Foodies next week on the 20th of January.

The first event
Credit: Jordi Flores

In sObres Mestres we collaborate with both Espigoladors and Nevera Solidaria, who promote us with food. But even though the main part of the food has been donated to us, there is still a lot of expenses like transport, salaries and the rent of the restaurant, not to mention the amount of work and time it takes me to organize these events. But still, we try to have as low prices as possible and the same offer a high standard of quality and healthy food.

I believe in sObres Mestres – So far, we have had very good reactions. The dream is to be sustainable and to have a sObres Mestres canteen in the future, where we can offer food-waste dinners in a more permanent way. For the moment, this is not possible, but I’m working on it.’