Run by a local organization, Bacio — Love Food is a social business project about italian food, culture and relief in Hawassa, South Ethiopia.
In Bacio the bar for quality has been set high. They want their restaurant to be based also on sound and ethical principles; they want to run a business that is socially responsible.
It means running an honest and financially healthy business, not simply in the pursuit of profit. It means paying its staff a fair salary — and not like certain other businesses, exploiting the high unemployment rate to press salaries down to a minimum. And it means building up a secure place for her employees to work.
It means supporting local farmers by using local produce to the extend possible. It means using organically grown vegetables. And paying a fair price for them. It means producing high quality food at fair prices for a local audience.
Bacio’s restaurant is accessible and participatory. Fresh, honestly prepared, high-quality italian food cannot be exclusionary. For the morning and the afternoon we produce snack boxes for the many school children in the area. Cheap and healthy snacks.
For lunch and dinner we produce fresh pasta by the kilo: tagliatelle, spaghetti, ravioli and macaroni, lasagna, farfalle, penne, etc. And the pasta is wrapped in sauces made from original recipes. Guests can take it away or they can eat in the intimate restaurant. In the evening Bacio serves also sophisticated traditional Italian aperitifs.
The challenge is to work with the local ingredients. And all is local — except of course the olio di oliva. For that is the one thing which any Italian chef will refuse to compromise on. But the tomatoes, the mozzarella, the oregano, the flour, etc. are all local produce.
Bacio does not only want to make and sell food; they want to build bridges between people and cultures, using food as the social connector. They want to show food as an expression of art and culture — as well as an expression of love and beauty. And through Bacio – Love Food they want to do it in ways that benefit the local community.
One social part of the concept is to teach about food; how to make healthy, tasty and at the same time cheap and varied food. So Bacio is also about promoting the understanding of how to use a larger variety of the fresh and healthy local ingredients and how to combine them in simple and delicious ways.
They want to teach this to the children in the local school. In collaboration with the teacher they want to teach the children how to buy the ingredients and teach them to understand the different smells, tastes and textures. And through stimulating their creativity the children will learn to combine them in new ways that are tasty and colourful.
The other social part of Bacio’s concept is cooking for street children. The street children are orphans or they have been thrown out from their homes because the family cannot afford to feed them.
And to gather the little money they need for the daily meal most of them beg or engage in petty crime. In the evening they gather in groups and at night they sleep in the rain tunnels under the street. Children can adopt to many things but it is a hard and unworthy life.
Bacio wants to contribute to giving these children a better life through providing free and good food for them. Socially engaged local girls and boys — with connection to the street children — will be hired to manage this part of the project: in the evening after closing the restaurant, Bacio will cook and serve food for these exposed and vulnerable children of Hawassa.