Punta & Montevideo chefs organise communal pots

A volunteer team has commandeered a luxury hotel kitchen and is making hot, nutritious meals for hundreds of adults and children. Find out how you can help.
By Karen A Higgs
Last updated on April 24, 2020

How to help during coronavirus times? Participate in a communal pot

The situation of a lot of people around the world is that under quarantine they can’t get out to work. Which means they can’t put food on the table for their family.

In Uruguay there’s a tradition that when times get hard, a community will get together to share what they have. Together they’ll get together the ingredients to make a big stew in a big communal pot—known as an olla popular—, usually in the open air. And everyone present, regardless of if they were able to put something in, gets a plate of hot food.

The issue is, we’re in a pandemic and the communal and open air aspects of the communal pot is not ideal. This led a number of Uruguayan chefs and organic producers, such as chef Aurelien Bondoux, honey producer Pablo Artigas and Paola Morselli of our favourite Salón N° 3 in La Barra), to start up ‘El Fuego Prendido’ – the lighted flame.

In the shadow of the (unfinished) Trump Tower in glitzy Punta del Este, a volunteer team has taken over the kitchen of a luxury hotel and they are providing a hot, nutritious meal a day for hundreds of adults and children.

We have one team in Montevideo and there are over 30 volunteers – I’m pretty sure it’s going to be more than that – in the ‘Mercado del  Inmigrant’ in downtown Montevideo. Here in Punta del Este we are now over 100. It’s fantastic and growing! Now we are working with the east area, we’ll start with an illegal settlement, many people live there. They don’t work, they don’t have any money. They live day by day,” says Pablo.

Visit the heart of Fuego’s Punta del Este operation in Episode 8 of the Uruguay Corona Chronicles.

Make a donation

Fuego Prendido Montevideo

  • you can bring non-perishable food (rice, beans, pasta), fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat to Mercado del Inmigrante (San José 1312) from Tuesday to Thursday, 9am-2pm or to TUPE shop (Roque Graseras 835) from Tuesday to Thursday, 4pm-8h30pm
  • you can also donate money through these accounts:
    Abitab: 109587
    Red Pagos: 72481

Fuego Prendido Maldonado

  • donate through the online shop Tito Tienda Gourmet: you can select the products you want to donate and pay online
  • buy products at the market Agromercado Alemán (Javier de Viana esq. Leonardo Olivera) from 8am-9pm. Make the purchase under the name “Fuego Prendido” and they pick it up there
  • buy meat from the butchery Assis and they’ll deliver it to Fuego Prendido
  • you can also donate directly at different zones in Punta del Este, they are listed at their Instagram
  • contact them about other donation options at elfuegoprendido@gmail.com

Where can you help or find help?

Several sites have emerged since the start of quarantine, all created and run by volunteers. None of the sites offer an option to be able to make an automatic donation in cash. You’ll need to select a pot to support and check how they request donations are made.
  • Ollapopular.uy covers more of Uruguay than most of the others as it includes data from Ollas populares.
  • #ParandoLaOlla takes you to a google map. All the markers take donations. The red markers are collection points. They then distribute. Mostly Montevideo, but several in other departments including Canelones, San José and Colonia. Click on the markers to find day, time and address of the olla and how you can donate.
  • Involucrate.uy has been in existence for several years. It offers volunteers and donors the chance to match themselves with an organisation or person that needs their help. 
  • El Fuego Prendido – donation information on their Instagram pages or email donaciones@elfuego.uy
IMPORTANT If your Spanish is non-existent you can find a volunteer to help you coordinate your donation in Guru’Guay’s Discover Uruguay Facebook group.

The latest on the pandemic in Uruguay

Jan 10 2023 The Uruguay government declared the end of the health emergency on April 1 2022 after 752 days. 82% of the population has received at least two shots.  




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