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Good practice: Supported Employment in Bordeaux restaurants

What about a lunch menu of “Eggs in jelly – salmon with sauce hollandaise, roasted potatoes and zucchini – crème bavaroise with pears and chocolate cream”? At the Restaurant "LE PETIT CREUX” in Bordeaux this is a typical lunch offered to guests of the central historic Bordeaux district. The furniture is modern minimalistic, very chic and in fresh green and orange colors. The tables are perfectly laid with flowers, polished glasses and table napkins. Everything looks like a comfortable place for the noon break, but in fact it is a very different restaurant: Here 3 – 5 underage offenders and young people with slight mental disabilities get the chance to learn cooking and get trained in the restaurant’s service. Partly, the jobs are an alternative to prison sentences. 

The young people (mostly boys) work part time in this so called “restaurant pedagogique” (“pedagogic restaurant”) and get other training as well. Marie Perringey acts as cook and social worker and takes care of 5 – 8 boys a year. Her aim is to get the boys interested in work and additional training and to get them into internships and apprenticeships. The restaurant is funded by regional, national and European funding and the income raised by the restaurant itself.

A similar impression in the MAGELLAN in Pessac, close to Bordeaux: Nicely arranged tables, modern designs in furniture, bright colors and a mouthwatering menu. Here, disabled persons are trained and employed for kitchen tasks, cooking and service. They are employed on a regular basis and slowly led to tasks with more responsibilities. 20 persons are working with Remi, the professional cook, in the kitchen, preparing around 230 meals a day. He tells, that it needs months to train those people and it needs up to 3 years to qualify them for the kitchen and service jobs. The disabilities of the staff range from mental and intellectual disabilities to social problems and mental deficits. Also homeless people get the opportunity to start with working routines and a new life here. 

Shift to services needs new qualifications for staff as well

Isabelle, manager of the restaurant, and Remi, the cook, represent a new kind of professionals: both have two different qualifications. Isabelle is a trained restaurant manager and social worker, Remi is a chef and has a university degree in education. Both of them emphasize that a fundamental change is going on in creating jobs and offering qualification for disabled persons: “We are shifting from the mainly industrial jobs of the past to service oriented jobs”, explains Isabelle. Industrial jobs like putting together little instruments were an employment chance for disabled people for many decades. Now these jobs are often done in countries outside Europe, where wages are extremely low. Rather new is the training of disabled persons in services like cleaning, ironing, gardening, sewing and restaurant services.  

Overall, this is a positive development according to Isabelle, because “these jobs are needed here in our region and can’t be moved to another place or country”. All these jobs need additional public funding and the minority of trained persons gets a job in the employment market (around 2% estimates Isabelle). Offering different combined services and covering a niche market (like the MAGELLAN restaurant in an otherwise industrial area with many small businesses without a lunch caterer) is part of the success. INSUP, the French SUPPE partner, is training provider in both restaurants and plays a most important role in the implementation of supportive actions along the training.

For more information please contact Gisèle Massol at INSUP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

(Article written by Karin Drda-Kühn / ACW)