Antwerp's culinary school promoting social integration applauded by Belgian king
The Instroom ('enter') Academy is a project aimed at promoting the professional integration of asylum seekers in Antwerp through culinary training. The initiative has been launched by Chef Seppe Nobels and the non-profit organization GATAM, and received a royal visit this week.
“For example, the apprentices prepare dishes inspired by their grandparents’ cuisine,” says Nobels. “But by using local vegetables, we also support our farmers and our land,” the chef adds.
“Each employee, in the kitchen and in the dining room, is in training. It's a culinary academy disguised as a restaurant. You pay for the training, not your meal…”, says the restaurant’s website.
Students at the Instroom Academy receive training in hospitality and catering industries, as well as Dutch lessons and psychological support. Apprentices arrive from all over the world, from South America to the Middle East.
According to a note at the Belgian monarchy website, a massive 95% of asylum seekers find work after completing their training at Instroom Academy. The Belgian King was served three dishes prepared by the apprentices this week. They were made from local ingredients inspired by the different students’ cultures of origin. South American "arepas", a Vietnamese "pho bo" or a Palestinian "pirogi" were offered as starters.
“We are Europe’s only academy to be listed in Gault & Millau and Michelin,” Nobels told the Belgian sovereign.
The “Instroom” restaurant, in the heart of Antwerp’s port, was opened in June 2021.
© BELGA PHOTO (JONAS ROOSENS) King Philippe of Belgium meets 'Instroom Academy' staff in Antwerp