After cooking for a week at a soup kitchen in Delhi, India which feeds 20,000 men, women, and children every day, journalist Stephen Henderson became curious about the very different ways in which hungry people are served free meals around the world.  His research into global gastrophilanthropy — or, generosity devoted to nourishing the needy — resulted in The 24-Hour Soup Kitchen.

This intriguing series of field reports brings the reader inside the clamor, chaos, and compassion of kitchens in places such as Iran, Israel, and South Korea, as well as those in Austin, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh.  Written with a huge heart, and an even bigger appetite, these chapters — sad and funny, sometimes both — may inspire you to embark on your own acts of gastrophilanthropy.  

Praise for the book

“Like most of us, Stephen Henderson felt guilty about eating well in a hungry world. Unlike most of us, he did something about it. This fascinating tale is incredibly inspiring. Wondering what you can do? Reading this book would be a good place to start.”
— Ruth Reichl, Chef, food writer, and host of PBS’s “Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth"
“A graceful, well-balanced, and enlightening work. An inspiring philanthropic account that deftly displays the author’s affability, knowledge, and passion.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“A captivating and original book. This quest to learn more about gastrophilanthropy is at once a vibrant travelogue and deeply moving search for self. I devoured it and still wanted more!”
— Cynthia Nixon, Actor and Activist


On his journeys which became The 24-Hour Soup Kitchen, author Stephen Henderson often imagined himself accompanied by the 19th century chef, Alexis Soyer.  Born in 1810 into humble circumstances in Meaux-en-Brie, France, Soyer rose to become the most famous chef in Victorian England.  A true bon-vivant, Soyer was an excellent singer, mimic, raconteur, and a prolific inventor of labor-saving devices for the kitchen.  He also essentially invented the “soup kitchen,” or a highly-efficient way of feeding masses of poor people, when he went to cook in Ireland in 1847, after the country was devastated by the great potato famine.
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