Food is an essential foundation of our lives. Long evolved past being a necessity, it’s now a key part of creating a sense of community and belonging. A whole new crop of conscious culinary businesses are reconnecting meals with meaning, from employing newly settled refugees, to raising funds for children with speech impediments, proving that food is the perfect place to bring people together. Here are some restaurants around the world that are making a difference to not just the bellies of their customers but the lives of the those who benefit from their business model.
FOLONOMO – Sydney, Australia
While some businesses make bank and give back, FOLONOMO – an acronym of ‘For Love Not Money’ – is a profit-for-purpose restaurant where 100 per cent of profits are donated to organisations making the world a better place, both locally and globally. Customers can even decide where they’d like their money to go. The menu is a celebration of Australia’s multiculturalism and the space is also used to connect with the local community with classes, speakers and art exhibitions.
La Parole – Hong Kong
In French, la parole means speech, which might seem like an odd name for a restaurant, but it aptly reflects the purpose of this Hong Kong restaurant – to provide children with speech disabilities from low-income families with quality speech therapy. La Parole is the first of its kind in Hong Kong, merging high-class French cuisine with social enterprise values.
Delancey Street Restaurant – San Francisco
Tasty eats and a view of the bridge, Delancey Street is more than just a cool spot to hang out in San Fran. All the tips are considered a donation and the proceeds go to the Delancey Street Foundation; a house and training program set up to house, feed, clothe and train formerly incarcerated people looking to get back on their feet.
Mazi Mas – London
Ladies from migrant and refugee backgrounds prepare food from local produce, sourced sustainably, and not because it’s in fashion, but because that is how their mothers taught them to cook. Mazi Mas is a roaming restaurant creating delicious food rooted in cultural heritage. Employed women gain paid work experience, learn about and connect with their new community and share their story.
Gustu – La Paz, Bolivia
In the hills of La Paz is an avant-garde restaurant serving locally sourced food and training a new generation of chefs. Claus Meyer, the man behind one of the world’s highest ranked restaurants, Noma in Copenhagen, started the restaurant with Michelin-trained chef Kamilla Seidler. Simultaneously, they train students from low-income backgrounds to become chefs. The school has educated more than 600 students across eight locations. The restaurant is incredibly popular for those wanting to dine at a Michelin-like restaurant (and give back). We hear the seven-course tasting menu with matching cocktails is pretty special.
Mu’ooz – Brisbane, Australia
North-East African food is served in this African-run non-profit. The restaurant’s mission is to give experience, training and employment to African refugees, helping to break down cultural barriers. Over 96 refugee women have joined the team and received training and Mu’ooz raises funds to help both local and international causes and natural disasters.
Indian Fusion – Alberta, Canada
A family-run Indian restaurant with a big heart. After seeing people rummaging through the bins, restaurant owner Parkash Chhibber decided to change his business. Alongside dining patrons, he welcomes in people who need a meal, for free.
Laughing Man Coffee – New York, USA
Hugh Jackman has opened a café in New York to bring Fair Trade coffee to his fellow Manhattans. But for Hugh, it’s a personal mission to help his friend Dukale, a coffee grower in Ethiopia. All profits from the café go to the Laughing Man Foundation to educate entrepreneurs and support poor communities in Ethiopia.