Denise Cerreta had just opened a small organic café in downtown Salt Lake City six years ago when she had what she describes as a spiritual epiphany.
The former acupuncturist was struck by inspiration to make her prices donation based. "I didn't really hear a voice," says Cerreta, "but it was a profound experience. When the next person walked through the door, I said, 'Just choose your own price.' At that moment my heart expanded, and I knew what I was supposed to be doing with my life." A few years later, she was invited to speak at the International Women's Conference at His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living international headquarters in Bangalore, India. She spent three weeks there, serving meals to thousands of people daily. "This moved me to another level in my commitment to end hunger," she says. "The honor and blessing of serving food is what I love."
Today, Cerreta's café has become a nonprofit community kitchen called One World Everybody Eats, where customers pay whatever they choose to for their meal. There's always one complimentary dish on the menu (usually dahl and rice), and meals can also be paid for by volunteering in the organic garden, kitchen, or community.
One World's success inspired Cerreta to create a nonprofit organization that helps aspiring restaurateurs launch community kitchens based on One World's formula. Three are currently in operation—SAME (So All May Eat) in Denver, One World Spokane, and Potager, in Arlington, Texas—with some 60 other projects under way nationwide.
This year Cerreta turned the kitchen over to her head chef, Giovanni Bouderbala, so she could focus exclusively on mentoring. "We all deserve to eat healthy food," says Cerreta, "and as a community, we can make it available to everyone. We're like a spiritual franchise."