Regina Tchelly and her Organic Slum

Favela Orgânica (organic slum, in Portuguese) is the name of a social enterprise located in Morro da Babilônia, a favela in the north of Rio de Janeiro. The essence of the program is to spread the idea that anyone can eat well, spend too little and be ecologically and socially responsible.

The social project arose in 2011 from the head of chef Regina Tchelly, who offers lectures and workshops on topics such as conscious consumption, alternative cuisine, micro gardening  and home composting.

In her recipes, Regina often takes full advantage of natural foods, including barks, stalks, lumps and everything else. What is not used becomes composting. Tchelly also wants to connect smallholder farmers and consumers.

So far, Favela Orgânica has been working primarily with housewives. With the knowledge gained, these women feed better and acquire a new profession, supporting their families.

“My next step is to have a gastronomy school about food-cycle”, she reveals. “I want to educate 5-year-olds to stay in school until they are 10. So, they really can be more conscious and healthier teens. If we don’t taking care now, obesity will increase much more in a few years”.

Receitas nos muros da favela. Imagem: Ciclo Vivo

With the initiative, Regina Tchelly was awarded and is traveling to various places where she promotes healthier eating. After appearing on Brazilian TV shows, she was invited to showcase her work and cook for personalities in countries such as France and Italy.

“I think my speech represents a movement that changes our relationship with food regardless of social class. And all this has been adding to other issues, such as food waste that is absurd across the planet,” she says.

Despite acknowledging that the discussion around healthy eating has been growing, Regina Tchelly some setbacks of the Brazilian government on the subject. “It’s very surreal to want to poison our food,” she exemplifies. “That’s why I think we should hold hands, strengthen each other, start planting with what we have.”

Regina Tchelly
Regina Tchelly

“If we don’t taking care now, obesity will increase much more in a few years”

+ Regina Tchelly was born in Serraria, in northeastern Brazil. Farmers’ daughter, she learned to cook with her grandmother. She ran away from home at age 15 to live in the big city. Prior to founding the project, she worked as a maid. Today, at 38, she is the mother of three girls. The oldest is 18 years old. The youngest is a 1 year old baby.


Regina Tchelly’s recipes can be seen on the TV show “Amor de Cozinha” (“Kitchen Love, in Portuguese) presented by the educational channel Futura. Watch on in Portuguese).