Feeding Humanity with Humanity: Charles Bronfman Prize to David Hertz of Gastromotiva

“Feeding humanity with humanity” is how Brazilian chef David Hertz passionately described his life’s work during a moving virtual celebration of The Charles Bronfman Prize, an award of $100,000, presented annually to a humanitarian under fifty whose innovative work, informed by Jewish values, has significantly improved the world.

“We were thrilled to have so many of our laureates present to celebrate David and update us on the incredible work they are doing, “said Ellen Bronfman Hauptman, “David’s mission, which highlights the urgent need for social justice and food equality, feels particularly relevant in these difficult times.”

“We turn food surplus and waste into world-class meals serving people in need,” noted Hertz, the founder in 2006 of Gastromotiva, an organization that uses food to improve the lives of vulnerable people around the world.

Hertz’s first experience in gastronomy was working in a kibbutz kitchen in Israel as an 18-year-old. In 2004, he was already a trained chef when he first visited a favela in the city of São Paulo, an experience that inspired him to develop projects to help youth and the vulnerable, ultimately leading to social gastronomy.

His Gastromotiva also trains residents of low-income neighborhoods to work in the food service industry. In its Solidarity Kitchens program established after the onslaught of covid-19, current and former students turn their home kitchens into small delivery restaurants to prepare meals for the most vulnerable in their neighborhoods. Students receive financial help, food donations and supplies to produce healthy meals to distribute for free to their communities, enabling these students to earn a living by supplying healthy food to their neighborhoods. Gastromotiva has opened 50 Solidarity Kitchens in Brazil and two in Mexico.

“These kitchens become community centers and bring people together,” Hertz explained.

“Gastromotiva provides a solution to the problems of hunger, food waste, poverty, malnutrition, climate change, inequality and unemployment,” he points out.

Hertz works in tandem with the Social Gastronomy Movement, a global network he co-created and co-founded at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018 that now has hubs in more than 38 countries around the world, including the United States. Gastromotiva also partners with the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Winner United Nations World Food Programme.

Immediately following the Prize celebration, Hertz spoke at C2 Montreal, an international conference which brings together entrepreneurs and innovative leaders. Hertz strategized with Jean-Francois Archambault, the founder of La Tablee des Chefs and lauded the “power of people to become change-makers in their own communities”.

“David exemplifies the wonderful humanitarians who have won The Prize to date.” Charles Bronfman stated, “His commitment to eliminating hunger while promoting human dignity is creating a global impact.”

“Don’t ever underestimate human beings’ [ability] to [reach] their full potential,” Hertz declared. “If they get the love and resources they need, they will thrive.”

The Charles Bronfman 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.