“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’ initiative, founded by the Food Sweet Food association with the support of the UN High Committee for Refugees (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 organize 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 on the 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, universal place of peace and equality.
TO GET INVOLVED: A METHODOLOGY KIT
If you would like to organize a Refugee Food Festival or join an existing team, contact us, and ask to consult the methodology kit (available in French or English), which we developed thanks to the support of the Innovation Unit of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Thanks to the methodology kit, the support of the founding team at Food Sweet Food and the local teams of UNHCR, each Refugee Food Festival is organized by local citizens who prepare the festival by mobilizing a whole local ecosystem: restaurants, associations, and other citizens!
We work closely with our partners to raise awareness, promote talents and create a positive context for professional integration.
UNHCR: CO-ORGANIZER OF THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL AND KEY PARTNER
The UN Refugee Agency, co-organizer of the annual festival, plays a fundamental role in the organization of the annual Refugee Food Festival and certain other projects developed by Food Sweet Food.
It supports the accomplishment of the festival’s missions, in particular that of information and awareness of the general public, through the amplification of the festival’s messages. UNHCR also ensures the protection of refugee chefs by providing its expertise and can support the process of professional integration.
BNP PARIBAS FOUNDATION, PARTNER OF THE 2018 FESTIVAL 2018
We warmly thank BNP Paribas Foundation for supporting the 2018 Refugee Food Festival.
BECOMING A PARTNER
In a global context where the migration question needs answers more than ever, our initiative wishes to get away from the widespread miserabilist rhetoric. The Refugee Food Festival aims to address the question of overall integration through professional integration and through a universal medium: food.
We deeply believe that work is a crucial vector of integration which allows to discover cultural codes, to achieve independence and to make one feel like they belong to the national community.
All our actions are possible thanks to our partners, collaborators, volunteers and all those who support us.
Our partners are by our sides in a variety of ways and help us improve our project and expand our actions in France and worldwide.
Would you like to know more about our activities, our impact and how you may contribute? Contact us via the form below!