The concept of Refettorio Paris was brought in from Milan. The project has been initiated by the Food for Soul association, founded by the italian chef Massimo Bottura (3 stars in the French « Guide Michelin ») and his wife Lara Gilmore, to sensitize populations about food waste through social inclusion.
At the beginning in 2015, the organisation opened the Refettorio Ambrosiano in Milan. Then they disseminated their project in Rio, London, Modena, Bologna. Each project is one of a kind and based on the local communities’ needs, but all have the same approach : quality ideas, social inclusion and hospitality. In 2018, Food for Soul decided to settle down in Paris and open the Refettorio Paris inside the social restaurant “Le Foyer de la Madeleine”.
« Feed the body and soul »
This social restaurant is not only a charity project but a social project as well !
They offer to people in need good quality meals cooked for them with unsold products to fight against food waste, and served in a pleasant setting where they can feel well received. The artistic and architectural inspiration stands at the centre of this social and inclusive project in the construction of a warm and welcoming space. In a nutshell, it gives an opportunity to these people to recover their dignity by creating social cohesion and to nourish their artistic sense.
A hundred meals a day are cooked with about 130 kg of recovered food items, and free meals are distributed to people in need.
Guests are sent by NGOs, who are the only ones to be entitled to provide the cards giving access to the restaurant. All of them come and wait to share a meal. The aim is to make the guests open up to one another, to create social bound, and to reintegrate into society little by little, and why not find a job, a home etc.
But who is behind this great project ?
Jean-François Rial, CEO of « Voyageurs du Monde », took the lead of the Refettorio Paris and has been animating this project since then.
About the artistic identity of the project, artists, architects and designers have all worked together to make this place one of a kind and welcoming. We can mention JR, project leader and very involved in the association’s work, Prune Nourry for the art installations decorating the Refettorio, and Nicola Delon and Ramy Fischler for the renovation of the “Foyer de la Madeleine” on the occasion of the Refettorio Paris opening.
Inside the kitchen, chief resident Maxime Bonnabry Duval and his second-in-command Solène Gallard come to work every night. Since the beginning, about a hundred head chefs have been coming to play their role, like Alain Ducasse, Jean Imbert or Olivier Roellinger for the most famous… but also and above all, volunteers are coming every day to give a hand to prepare healthy and tasty meals for the guests. Don’t hesitate to join them, they are always looking for extra hands in the kitchen … and in the restaurant !
70 partner associations support the Refettorio Paris. For example: Aurore, Secours catholique, Secours populaire or Emmaüs, for the most famous ones.
The Little Extra
You will be welcomed in the crypt of the Madeleine church !
If you are a company or a local producer and you do have retrieved food : firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Inès Joffet, LFC volunteer - March 2020
Last modification : 30 Mar 2020.
This solidarity restaurant is not only a charity project but also a cultural project!
It offers excluded populations, in precarious situations, quality meals cooked for them from unsold food, to fight against food waste, and served in a pleasant setting where they feel welcome.