at the Refugee Food Festival, refugees are cooks first

This is the whole point of the festival, created in 2016 in Paris but which is in its 6e Bordeaux edition this year, from June 13 to 18: changing the general public’s view of refugees and their cuisine. There are many discoveries on the program this year: the hardest part is still choosing between a Tajik dinner and a Georgian lunch. The principle is simple: for the duration of a service, a voluntary establishment agrees not to present its own menu but a menu drawn up by the chef of the restaurant and a refugee. For the first time, there will even be a Ukrainian sommelier. In all, five restaurants in Bordeaux, and five refugees, are taking part this year in these “meals with four hands”, collaborations where no one leads but where everyone gets rich.

“A great vector of integration”

The festival, which is held until June 26 in 11 cities in France and Switzerland, is only the tip of the iceberg that is the Food Refugee association. “We really follow the refugees behind, we don’t let them go in the wild after seven days,” continues Coline Desilans. We are convinced that the kitchen can be a great vector of integration. »

Professional integration of course, since 40% of the participants receive proposals from the restaurateurs with whom they have collaborated. Some have even set up their own restaurants. But also social integration: “Seeing people eat their cooking makes them feel accepted. It’s also an opportunity to network and even practice French,” explains Coline Desilans. And the association does not stop there, it also offers two training courses: in Paris, for the moment, to become a clerk or work in collective catering. It even has a permanent integration restaurant. It also offers food aid and has just launched a pilot education project in Marseille to raise awareness at school. With one objective: “spread all these initiatives”, especially in Bordeaux.

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