Sign up to get the latest news, discounts, tips and much more!
Share this page
Robin Hood and the Michelin Chefs
This week I spent an evening with the homeless, who were waited on attentively at the launch of a new social restaurant.
The stars that shone that night were Michelin, as three top Spanish chefs (Pepe Rodríguez, Miguel de la Fuente and Julius Bienert) attended the opening of a restaurant called “Robin Hood” to cook for the homeless.
The restaurant is an initiative of padre Angel, a Spanish priest who founded the charity Mensajeros de la Paz/ Messengers of Peace in 1962.
The charity is active in over 50 countries and works to combat social isolation, be it homelessness, finding families for children who have lost their parents, or helping the elderly.
As a recognition of his work padre Angel received Spain’s highest award the premio Principe de Asturias/Prince of Asturias prize in 1994 and there is currently a petition to nominate him for the Nobel prize.
He is not, however, a typical priest. When asked why he called the restaurant Robin Hood, another journalist reported that padre Angel joked: ‘We could of called the restaurant “the brothel” to get people’s attention, but we thought “Robin Hood” was probably more appropriate.’
The main reason for the name Robin Hood is the restaurant’s social business model, which promotes sharing, rather than robbing the rich.
At breakfast and lunch the restaurant sells a fixed price menu for €11 to the general public that includes a starter, main course and dessert. Then the profits from these sales go towards feeding 100 homeless or vulnerably housed people over two shifts in the evening.
The Robin Hood restaurant is the latest in a line of innovative, or downright unusual, events organised by padre Angel.
In January his church organizes a pet blessing festival – where pretty much every animal under the sun is brought, sometimes protesting – and scratching in the case of the cats, to be sprinkled with holy water.
They also organized a screening of the Champions League final between Real and Athlético Madrid last year and visitors to the church this summer could also watch the Olympics there.
This all happens in the Iglesia de San Anton/church of Saint Anthony (the patron saint of animals), a 24 hour church in the heart of Madrid’s gay area that claims to be open to everyone, believers and non-believers alike.
The church feeds 500 people a day, but the limited space made padre Angel realise that “eating standing up or sitting on benches was only a temporary solution.”
Robin Hood aims to restore “the dignity of eating” so the homeless, or people on the breadline, “can sit down at a table, with a proper table cloth and on special occasions eat food prepared by the best chefs in Spain”
Some might see giving non-essential food to the homeless as a luxury. Why give the homeless an evening meal in a restaurant, when many people just have a sandwich or put a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner? I put it to padre Angel that some people might think the financial costs of running a restaurant like Robin Hood might outweigh the importance of creating a sense of community.
Well he replied “You can’t live on food alone the soul needs nourishment too. This is why community is so important and on a practical level you can’t spend your whole day looking for a job and even if you do and events such as football matches happen in the evenings so…we’re there at that time when people often need us most.”
“If there’s an event going on in Madrid, the church is open. So I guess you could say the church participates in all events. It’s open during the Gay Pride festival and when there are music and culture festivals in the neighborhood. It’s always open.”
After speaking to Padre Angel, I managed to exchange the briefest of words with the chefs I sat down with the homeless people who had been invited and we began to chat. One table was delighted that I had grown up in Nottingham, and I was able to answer all their questions about Robin Hood. They’d heard of Sherwood Forest, though they joked that there were only probably only two trees left there nowadays.
Coming from Madrid they were also heavily into football and asked what had happened to Nottingham Forest, this was a much more painful question to answer.
The majority of people only wanted to chat, but a few of them also kindly agreed to have their pictures taken for this article. I met Charles who, like Beyoncé, keeps hot sauce on him, to spice up his food.
I also sat down with Javier, who was probably one of the most entertaining people I’ve ever had dinner with. Javier talked fluently in English about food and music, remembering a time when he had lived in New York City eating slices of pizza and listening to records by Michael Jackson and Dianne Krall. Then he read the fortunes of myself and two other people on his tarot cards and the evening ended like all the best evenings out, with good-natured staff patiently waiting for us to leave.
Robin Hood is a great idea that really offers a new experience. Not only is your money going to good cause, but also, depending on the chefs, you might have the opportunity to eat Michelin star food for only €11. Added to that the staff are some of the most capable, interesting and pleasant people that I’ve encountered in any restaurant. If you’re ever in Madrid you should definitely check it out.
If you’re visiting Madrid you can find Robin Hood on C/ Eguilaz, 7 close to Bilbao Metro on line 1. Reservations can by made by calling: 914258841. The Iglesia de San Anton can be found in C/ Hortaleza and the best time to visit is El dia de San Anton/The Day of San Anton on the 17th January.
David Brown for Stubble and Strife.
David is a freelance writer and translator who has written for Vice and some smaller publications. He recently joined Stubble and Strife to write on the “Little Troubles and Strife Series”. David lives in Madrid, and has his own website at https://theonlydavidbrownintown.wordpress.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @onlydavidbrown
Adam Potts took the photograph for this piece. To see more of his work check out his instagram: adam_w_potts and his website
Day of San Anton - Blessing the Ferrets
Day of San Anton - Blessing the Ferrets Of all life’s difficulties, there is nothing that causes more trouble and strife than working with children or animals. Spare a thought for Padre Ángel García Rodríguez organizing the day of San Anton in Madrid who has [...]
Having a beard: Keeping the legacy alive
You got to love this comic strip for tapping into the reality of venturing out with a beard in the world. There’s something about beards that simply makes people want to get all tactile with you and then probe into why you grew it. This is often followed up with a “too lazy to shave dude?” There aren’t [...]
He’s into Vintage – So what do you give him for Valentines?
It could be simple, you pop off to Amazon, find the sexiest bit of shiny technology, a Fitbit maybe or even a flying drone equipped with a camera, but what do you buy him if he is into Vintage. So the guys in the office got together and thought they would take a look at what you can [...]
How to … Shave
You say you KNOW how to shave and don't need any tips? Let's check. We invite you to take our “Shaving Quiz”. Step #1 should always be a thorough, hot water wash Answer: True. Cold water, excellent for closing pores, comes later on. First we need to soften your bristles. This is most effectively [...]
How to … Shape a Beard
October is almost over, finishing with Halloween Friday. This day will see many donning a variety of fancy dress beards. Great for celebrations but not what you want people to be thinking with regard to your whiskery pride and joy.Shaping a beard is both general and specific. There are some guidelines no matter which [...]
Fix my... Ingrown Hair
Shaving = short hairs with sharp, pointed ends = potential for problems.One of the biggest of these problems is ingrown hair. An ingrown hair has basically made a right cock up. Instread of growing in the direction it should (out), it's done a 360 the wrong way.The good news is that this condition is not [...]
Fix my...Dull Skin
You say your skin has gone round the bend? That is, looking rather dull, lacklustre, drained of all energy? On the one hand, you must have been having FUN you lucky devil – perhaps frequent get-togethers with lots of scrummy party food and drink or you've been camping, fishing or hiking. On the other hand, too much of a [...]
Fix my...Sunburned Skin
Right, if you are looking like a lobster, it's clear things have gone a bit pear shaped. A little too much “current bun (sun)”, eh? Just put your feet up, grab a beer, and we'll see what we can do. Sunburn is "skin cell DNA damage". In an effort to repair the damage caused by [...]
Fix my...Razor Burn
We don't mean to be beastly; we really don't. However, the truth of the matter is that razor burn usually means your shaving technique leaves something to be desired. Fortunately, we're here to put you right.The first step is being clear about what we're dealing with. What is called “razor burn” is an irritation of the skin [...]