This chef uses food waste to feed and empower her community

After moving from a small town to Rio de Janeiro to become a chef, Regina Tchelly wanted to incorporate food waste reduction into her recipes to help give a second life to ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away. 

Pumpkin rinds, banana peels, and seeds are just some of the ingredients in her unusual recipes. Tchelly’s innovative creations are not only good for the planet but are also helping heal a broken social system in Rio de Janeiro where about 1.5 million people live in the city’s slums and food insecurity is a rampant issue. 

After developing them, Tchelly shares her recipes with her community through free cooking classes. Although they have moved online during the pandemic, her classes help families stretch their budget and make delicious meals using every part of an ingredient. One of her students, Ivonides Silva, now makes an income from the cakes she learned to bake in Tchelly’s class. 

Tchelly’s classes became so popular she shared them in a Tedx Talk in Sao Paolo. The Brazilian government has implemented programs to improve food security, but 5 million people in the country still suffer from malnutrition and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue.

Tchelly alone has helped 30,000 people across the country learn food-saving cooking techniques. Although some may be skeptical at first about cooking with banana peels, her results are delicious and she is empowering residents to feed themselves, save money, and reduce waste no matter what ingredients they have to work with. 

Image source: Yes! Magazine

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