Top chef offers training for refugees and free gourmet meals for homeless people

Belgian chef Seppe Nobels will open his new training restaurant 't Gasthuis in Mechelen next week. A gastronomic restaurant will also be opened in the same space, which for three afternoons a week will serve free meals to homeless, underprivileged and disadvantaged people.

't Gasthuis is housed in a building that has been vacant for decades. Nobels will provide a four-month training course for refugees where they will learn how to make their own traditional dishes with local products.

"'t Gasthuis will be the mecca of integration. We will train people here, but at the same time, we are also a place where people find a home," said Nobels. "We are going to write stories here with refugees from Ukraine, Iraq, Iran and Palestine, for example - people who have fled from war or famine and have come to Mechelen. After four months of training, I hope these people can progress to a job in the Mechelen catering industry."

The gourmet restaurant will open in the afternoons to serve homeless and disadvantaged people. "That space would otherwise be empty in the afternoons, so I want to offer a Michelin-worthy healthy vegetarian menu there for free for people who normally cannot afford it. There is room for 30 covers every afternoon," Nobels said.

Nobels will be in his home town of Mechelen for at least four months and hopes another chef will carry on his initiative after he leaves, so he can build the concept elsewhere.

't Gasthuis is part of the city festival Construct Europe, which will be held in Mechelen for nine months honouring Belgium's European presidency. Reservations can be made from Sunday on Nobels' website or via Construct Europe.


#FlandersNewsService | © PHOTO ROMEO GACAD / AFP

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