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    • Social inclusion and solidarity earned their place in restaurant

    Social inclusion and solidarity earned their place in restaurant

    31 May 2019Par Ghislaine Plus
    Latest news & trends in food & drink

    We can see the development of restaurant concepts focusing on a commitment to humans, social inclusion, solidarity and other citizens’ initiatives based on public spirit and an active community that brings together restaurateurs, suppliers and consumers.

    “Taste good, Do good”



    Beyond the commitment to Mother Nature, all around the world we are seeing the emergence of new restaurants based on Social and Solidarity Economy practices. These restaurants encourage community-building and promote social inclusion.





    Refettorio Paris


    Milan’s REFETTORIO, founded by Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura, has had a Paris location since 2018,  after opening in Modena, Bologna, Rio and London! This solidarity-based restaurant, located in the crypts of the Church of la Madeleine in the French capital, is the fruit of collaboration between Food for Soul, the non-profit founded by Massimo Bottura, and Le Foyer de la Madeleine (a community kitchen).


    The Refettorio offers evening dinner service, free of charge for the needy, with staffing by a team of volunteers. In the kitchen, every evening a guest chef – sometimes even a renowned chef – volunteers to cook up a menu using unsold products provided by partner food banks and others.

    In addition to its charity work, the Refettorio Paris is also a cultural project. It offers those in need the opportunity to experience good food in a beautiful setting while building social relationships in a space that is welcoming and inspiring, imagined by the artists, architects and designers who are also involved in the project.

    In France, with LES PETITES CANTINES, you can dine with your neighbours every day! In Lyon, Lille, Strasbourg, Annecy and Nantes, this network of neighbourhood kitchens, open to everyone, aims to develop relationships between local inhabitants and promote sustainable food. This allows people who work in a neighbourhood to eat with the local residents. Everyone contributes what they can and is invited to take part in organising the kitchen.


    A French non-profit, ERNEST builds local solidarity-based consumer networks in various regions (East Paris, Toulouse, London and Bordeaux). It has 150 member restaurants who agree to collect a Pourmanger for 6 months of the year: the restaurant increases the price of an item on its menu by a few cents (for example, 10 cents more for a coffee, 50 cents for an entire bill, €1 for a specific dish, etc.) and diners can also make a donation when they pay their bill. The proceeds are used to fund local food banks, non-profits, soup kitchens and more.



    Another initiative is Le RECHO (a contraction of the French words for “Refuge” “Human Warmth” and Optimism”), a solidarity-based project targeting refugees started in 2016 by chef and actress Vanessa Krycève.  Le Recho is a food truck financed through crowdfunding and the support of renowned chefs. Today, it also holds cooking workshops where local residents and refugees prepare meals and eat together, and has launched two restaurants, Le Grand Recho in Arras (opened in 2018) and another in the French capital.




    Also on the menu are restaurants that aim to promote social inclusion through foodservice training and work, both in the kitchen and in service roles.


    In London, THE BRIGADE KITCHEN aims to help the homeless and the unemployed to find a job through foodservice training programs. The training ends with a 6-month apprenticeship at The Brigade restaurant, followed by 7 months at another London eatery. This initiative was inspired by London’s most famous such initiative, CAFE FROM CRISIS, which provides employment for former inmates and the homeless.  


    In Morocco, there is no lack of solidarity-based restaurants either. Opened on 21 April this year, the AGAPÉ school and restaurant in Marrakech was created to help the city’s young people in need. Every meal ordered enables young apprentices to be trained by professionals.

    Moules dans une poêle

    ©Margo Brodowicz





    Lebanon: If you are ever in Beirut, go taste local specialties cooked using ancestral recipes at ASHGHALOUNA (which means “Our Work” in Arabic). While enjoying this non-profit restaurant located in a lovely historical building with a magnificent garden, you will be supporting the women in the kitchen, all of whom are widows with dependent children. Thanks to the proceeds from the restaurant and a handicrafts shop, Ashghalouna provides its employees with access to education and healthcare. 


    In Australia, FOUR BRAVE WOMEN offers cuisine by refugee chefs from various countries. This is the restaurant of a non-profit, The Trading Circle, which gives refugee women the chance to go into a professional activity.


    In France, MAM’AYOKA (which means “that which brings joy” in the Yoruba language) is a solidarity-based restaurant and catering service in northern Paris. In the kitchen, we find unemployed women from the neighbourhood, who come from the four corners of the world and who are talented cooks, explains the founder.


    And, of course, we love MEET MY MAMA, which reveals the culinary talents of migratory women who cook up delicious dishes from around the world, made right at home and prepared with love by the best chefs out there: our Mamas. MeetMyMama is starting to make a name for itself thanks to its services for companies, private events, cooking workshops and more.




    Chefs at work

    Photo by Michael Browning

    Some of these projects are dedicated to people suffering from disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism, who are rarely integrated in the workplace despite their various skills. Here again, these initiatives are investing in training. The restaurants and cafés are also offering urban consumers a break from their everyday lives, with an opportunity for new experiences and encounters.


    A brand-new restaurant, EN 10 SAVEURS in Levallois Perret, is a good example. As is LE REFLET in Nantes (and soon in Paris). As of course, CAFÉ JOYEUX, a coffee shop that gives the mentally disabled dignity by offering them a job in a standard work setting. The café employs 25 disabled workers at two shops, one in Paris and the other in Rennes.      


    What about guest inclusion?


    In Sydney, Australia, RASHAYS restaurants now offer special Sensory Hours dinners for people with sensory processing deficits.  Every Wednesday from 5 to 6 pm, the restaurant dims its lights, minimizes the use of noisy machines and beefs up its service staff in order to host autistic persons and their families in the best possible conditions.


    ‘Good in your plate and good for the planet’, discover how restaurants are fighting against climate change