WOT’s Up / Let's Learn

Serving 5 Star Meals To Refugees And The Homeless at Refettorio Paris

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A Paris vacation with a wonderful opportunity to volunteer!

On a family trip to Paris, my husband and I had an amazing opportunity to volunteer. Our friends, JR and his wife Prune, are incredible artists, be sure to check them out! They run an incredible five-star restaurant called Refettorio, where Michelin Star chefs, locals (or not), and volunteers serve meals to REFUGEES AND THE HOMELESS!!

I have never seen anything done at this level! The restaurant is located below the church of La Madeleine, in the crypt, and is an absolutely beautiful space. From the moment guests arrive, someone checks their coat, they get 5-star restaurant treatment, and the guests are treated with dignity. The dishes are beautiful, and the whole space looks like something out of a movie, after all, it is in the crypt of a Parisian church.

JR showed us all around Refettorio, where guests dine and their pantry for food. The Refettorio menu is always changing since they cook with whatever food they can get. They take food that is deemed not good enough – like fruits, vegetables, etc.  Food that doesn’t look perfect would be thrown away but is still perfectly good to eat! Think bananas with bruises that can easily and safely still be used and consumed, food that should NOT go to waste.

The chefs are tasked with creating a 5-star menu based on the raw materials that they have. My husband and I got the lay of the land, saw how Refettorio worked, and then put on our aprons and got to work. We spent our evening serving these amazing 5-star meals to people who were truly deserving of a dignified and respectful experience.


The idea of Refettorio Paris was conceived by Food for Soul, a non-profit organization founded by chef Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore. Together, they want to empower communities to fight against food waste through social inclusion. Their project launched in Milan in 2015 and then expanded to Brazil, London, Modena, and Bologna. Each of their projects is unique and shaped by the needs of the local community. They all share a common approach based on the quality of ideas, the power of beauty, and the value of hospitality.

I can’t say enough good things about the experience of volunteering at Refettorio. If you are ever in Paris, you must go check them out and take some time to volunteer! They need people to help with their daily dinner service (from Monday to Friday), setting up, serving food, clearing plates, and tidying the space, as well as those with cooking experience to help in the kitchen.

Now, can we all brainstorm on how we can get something like this started in our country?


Do you have a volunteering experience you’d like to share? Be sure and share it with us on the WOT Instagram or Facebook!


by Camila Alves McConaughey