“Cooking makes it possible to go beyond status, to discover other people’s worlds, by sharing what is both most singular and most universal.”
The Refugee Food Festival is a citizens’ led initiative, founded by the charity Food Sweet Food with the support of the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR). The idea of the festival is for restaurants to open and entrust their kitchens to refugee chefs, to share tasty and unifying moments.
Beyond the annual festival, Food Sweet Food develops activities to support the professional integration of the festival’s cooks: catering services, culinary events, cooking shows, cooking workshops, conferences and testimonials.
The project was born in 2016, when a few Parisian citizens decided to get together to try to improve the welcoming and integration of refugees.
Having travelled across 18 countries and shared food at the dinner tables of dozens of men and women, Food Sweet Food founders Marine Mandrila and Louis Martin realized the power of food in building cultural connections. Upon their return to France, in the midst of the “refugee crisis”, they decided to use the values of cooking and the French culinary scene in order to counter anxious and miserabilist discourses about refugees. Their idea: raise awareness amongst French citizens by speaking directly to their taste buds. Thus, the first Refugee Food Festival was born and, with it, many wonderful human encounters and culinary collaborations!
From this first edition, the project received the support of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Paris. Thanks to this collaboration, in 2017, Food Sweet Food was able to develop a methodology kit with the help of UNHCR’s Innovation Unit, to enable other citizens to organise a Refugee Food Festival in their city.
This is how about 20 volunteer citizens from 11 European cities took part in the second Refugee Food Festival. In 2018, having received even more citizens’ requests to bring the event to their city, the Refugee Food Festival expanded beyond European borders, to 14 cities, including New York, San Francisco and Cape Town.
Perceptions around the welcoming of refugees and refugee status.
Refugee cooks’ socio-professional integration through training and a community of committed chefs and restaurant owners.
Civil society, and get citizens together around the dinner table, a universal place of peace and equality.
TO GET INVOLVED: A TOOLKIT
If you would like to organise a Refugee Food Festival in your city or join an existing team, contact us and ask to consult the toolkit (available in French and English), which we developed thanks to the support of the Innovation Unit of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Thanks to the toolkit, the support of the founding team at Food Sweet Food and the local UNHCR teams, each Refugee Food Festival is organised by local citizens who prepare the festival by mobilising a whole local ecosystem: restaurants, associations, and other citizens!
UNHCR: CO-ORGANISER OF THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL AND KEY PARTNER
The UN Refugee Agency, co-organiser of the annual festival, plays a fundamental role in the organisation of the annual Refugee Food Festival and certain other projects developed by Food Sweet Food.
UNHCR supports the accomplishment of the festival’s missions, in particular that of information and awareness raising of the general public, through the amplification of the festival’s messages. UNHCR also ensures the protection of refugee chefs by providing expertise and supporting the process of professional integration.
BNP PARIBAS FOUNDATION, PARTNER OF THE FESTIVAL 2018
We warmly thank BNP Paribas Foundation for supporting the 2018 Refugee Food Festival.
THEY SUPPORT US
CONTACT US !
Credits © : Julia Wencker, Nico Pulcrano, Anne Bouillot, Anais De La Fonchais, Raffaello Rossini, Charles Mangin, Beauhart, Priscilla Davigny, Cindy Helfer, Fox Nakai, Jane Mitchell, Claire Jamison, Fiona Conrad, Sergio Salvai, Dejan Tomasevic, Lesly Junieth, Julia Wencker, Nathalie Hill, Vassili Feodoroff, Ahmet Polat, Anni Ziegler, Maria_6, Achilleas Zavallis, Alessandro Penso, Bopa Production, Margot Dujardin, Justine Birot, Kathryn Mahoney, Amali Tower