The Refugee Food Festival: when refugees take over the ovens in Brussels restaurants


From 17 to 21 June, the chefs of Brussels will relinquish control of their restaurants to refugee chefs for the second Refugee Food Festival. This is an opportunity to take our taste buds on a journey and promote the integration of refugees into our society.

Launched by the association Food Sweet Food, in collaboration with the HCR - the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - the Refugee Food Festival gives professional chefs forced to flee countries such as Syria, Chechnya and Iran a chance to take over the kitchens of seven Brussels restaurants - Caberdouche, Chez Franz, Le Mess, Hortense & Humus, Racines, Le Local and Chez Richard. The chefs can not only share the cuisine of their respective countries, but also highlight the integration of refugees into Belgium.

For Marine Mandrila and Louis Martin, who founded the association in 2016, the aim of the project is to create unity. "It brings citizens and refugees together around a positive cultural experience: the simple joy of preparing a good meal and enjoying great food", explained Vincent Cochetel, Director of the European office of the HCR[1]. These meals also represent a professional springboard for refugee chefs, but most importantly they act as an opportunity to bond and share food from elsewhere.

If you are unable to take part in the Brussels event, perhaps you can visit one of the 13 other cities hosting the festival between 12 and 30 June (Amsterdam, Athens, Bologna, Bordeaux, Cape Town, Lille, Lyon, Madrid, Marseille, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Strasbourg). For more information on the programme, go to