“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 Refugee 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.

Committed citizens
Supported chefs
Participating cities
Partner restaurants

Our impact

We have been working late 2018, with the UNHCR (who funded the study) and the specialized agency (IM)PROVE , on a social impact measurement that allows us to accurately evaluate the impact of the annual festival on the socioprofessional integration of the participating chefs and on public awareness. The full report is available here (French version only / English version coming soon).


The Refugee Food Festival had a significant impact on the assurance of 91% of participating chefs, and was therefore an event that allowed them to regain self-confidence.


59% of the chefs gained access to at least one professional opportunity (restaurant, training, opening their own restaurant), thanks to the Refugee Food Festival.


70% of the participants believe that the Refuge Food Festival has made a positive difference in their perception around the welcoming of refugees, and refugee status.


91% of citizens who weren’t already active before the Refugee Food Festival say the festival created a desire to get involved in supporting refugees


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!

You can also get involved in the project by volunteering! If you are interested, clic on the button bellow to discover our missions!

Our partners


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.


Secours Catholique – Caritas France accompanies the Refugee Food Festival for the 2019 edition. We thank them warmly for their support.


Launched in 2015, the Solidarity migrants program of the Fondation de France aims to support projects that help people in exile, regardless of their origin, religion or legal status. Since its beginning, more than 60 projects have been supported – in France and internationally – to support these populations in their reconstruction by promoting their integration in their host territory, in France, Lebanon, Turkey, in Iraq and Jordan.


Elior Group Solidarités is an association created in June 2017 to finance, support or promote solidarity initiatives in the fields of food, education and access to employment.


Relais & Châteaux, established in 1954, is an association of 580 unique hotels and restaurants throughout the world, owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs – most often families – who are passionate about their craft and deeply committed to forging warm, lasting relationships with their guests.
Established on five continents, from the Napa Valley vineyards to Provence to the beaches of the Indian Ocean, Relais & Châteaux invites people across the globe to savour delicious journeys, to discover the inimitable art de vivre engrained in each local culture and to share an incomparable, unforgettable experience.
Relais & Châteaux members protect and promote the wealth and diversity of the world’s culinary and hospitality traditions, to ensure they continue to thrive. They are equally dedicated to preserving local heritage and the environment, as articulated in the association’s Vision presented to UNESCO in November 2014.

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They support us

Committed chefs of the Refugee Food Festival

From neighbourhood canteens to Michelin-star restaurant, more than 200 chefs are involved in the Refugee Food Festival, and we thank them all enormously!

Stéphane Jégo (L’Ami Jean – Paris 7e), Michel et César Troisgros (Maison Troisgros – Ouches), Olivier et Hugo Roellinger, Bertrand Grébaut (Septime et Clamato – Paris 11e), Maxime Bonnabry-Duval (chef résidence du Refettorio Paris), Walid Sahed (Les Pantins), Chef Simon, Kamal Mouzawak (fondateur de l’ONG Make Food Not War), Antoine Westermann (Le Coq Rico – New York), Viviana Varese, Riccardo Ferrante, Juan & Lucia,  Florent Ciccoli (Le Café du Coin – Paris 11e), Hubert Vergoin (Substrat – Lyon 4e), Hadrien Lavaud (Le Taquin – Bordeaux), Arthur Audibert (L’Alchimiste – Bordeaux) …


Le Refugee Food Festival est une initiative citoyenne créée par Food Sweet Food et soutenue par le HCR, l’Agence des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés.

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