French catering company gives refugee women a recipe for success

French catering company Bande de Cheffes employs women displaced from their own countries to cook food from around the world. The goal is to make the most of refugees' talents while allowing them to earn their own living.

“I deliberately set up Bande de Cheffes as a company and not a non-profit organisation because I wanted to have a concrete social impact on the lives of a few female refugees,” said Charlotte Leluc, who founded the social enterprise in September 2021.

It started out working with two refugees and now employs eight, as well as between seven and 12 other staff.

Samah, 32, was among the first to join. She came to France from Sudan in 2017 and joined Bande de Cheffes two months after the company was created.

“I am so proud of what I have been able to accomplish here,” she told RFI. “I have learned so much; I can run a kitchen, prepare menus, develop new recipes.”

Samah, who has a degree in management information systems from Sudan’s University of Science and Technology, has new ambitions for her life in France.

“I want to become a successful businesswoman who helps people in need, like I was in the past,” she said.

“I want to be in a position where I can now give back.”

From Iganga to Paris

Gift came to Bande de Cheffes through, Emmaüs Solidarité, a French homelessness charity in June 2022, after a year and a half of struggling to make it in a country where she did not speak the language.

“Ultimately, my dream is to have my own pastry shop,” she said. The first step is to get into a two-year professional training programme in patisserie.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
Refugee Chefs show off their skills in Paris
Gastronomy gong given to Fulani chef supporting women in West Africa
Meet the Zimbabwean off-grid chef making ‘creepy, crawly' delights