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What’s cooking?!?


What’s cooking?!?

De la Olla

Buenos Aires | Argentina


We met with Andrea and her husband at Café Tortoni, the most iconic cafeteria of Buenos Aires. In a fin de siècle, out-of-a-movie scenario we got to know her changemaking story.

I love nature and I love cooking - says Andrea, founder of De la Olla -. I was also dreaming about providing opportunities to people with disabilities. I've lived all my life with a disability. In my work as consultant I stayed in touch with many people in a similar situation. Few years ago I created a new business model which includes all my dreams: cooking, nature and people with disabilities.

De la Olla [The Pot] is a catering company, which provides healthy food to the people of Buenos Aires.

I cook and provide meals weekly, on request. This allows me to buy as much food as I need and nothing more, we don't want to waste food. I love cooking Mediterranean food: my mother in law taught me how to cook Italian; my grandfather from Lebanon told me about Arabic food; during our travels I discovered North African cuisine. The basic ingredients in Mediterranean countries are similar, even if every country has its own peculiarities.

Andrea uses little salt and tries to keep her food as healthy as possible, showing that healthy doesn't necessarily mean eating a salad. Pasta, meat … all of that can be good for your body, as long as you keep it balanced.

I offer low-calories food from traditional recipes. There are a lot of misconceptions about healthy food. For example, people see only vegan food as healthy. For us health includes meat of animals raised in an ethical and organic way. Here producers use a lot of chemicals, animals are caged, they suffer, they don't eat well themselves. Our healthy food doesn't include meat like this, only good ingredients.

Besides an impact on people's health, De la Olla cares also about the environment.

We recycle organic waste, we use it in our garden. We recycle plastic and glass. Clients are encouraged to use returnable packaging, they get food in it and with next order they give it back. Another part of our impact is social – we hire people with disabilities. We work with NGOs which have direct contact with those people and we tell them what we need. We focus on the abilities of the people who work with us. Doesn't matter if they have physical or intellectual disability as long as they have the skills needed in our kitchen. Some time ago we had a blind man working with us. He collaborated with another one with mental disability. The blind smelled very well, the mental didn't but he had different skills, they complemented each other very well. A while ago the blind guy found another job and we are very happy for him. We hire now two boys with mental disabilities. One of them is very well organized, has a good sense of smell, he warns others for example when the food is burning. I can rely on them, they cook well, and I can focus on other aspects of the business.

Next step, and challenge, will be to scale up.

I dream about having a big kitchen, with a lot of people with disabilities working inside. Although growing is not so easy, people don't value natural food that much. But from the very beginning we knew there would be ups and downs. We believe in our proposal, we think it's good for us, for other people, for the environment. And we enjoy the journey.


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