Women from disadvantaged backgrounds receive top-level training in the kitchens run by 5 of the Group's Chefs
On Monday 10 October at the Préfecture in Marseille, the Prefect for Equal Opportunities announced the names of 11 women who have succeeded brilliantly in gaining their CAP vocational training certificate in catering as part of the Des Etoiles et des Femmes project.
This opportunity to train in upscale restaurant catering under a work-study scheme in the kitchens of top chefs in and around Marseille means a great deal for these women. All come from the disadvantaged northern communities of the city, and until they came into contact with La Table de Cana (the largest catering industry employment facilitating organisation in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region), none of them had ever imagined that one day they would be trained in a job they love by famous name chefs, and earn a valuable qualification.
When Solidarity AccorHotels ran this programme for the first time in 2015, it was at the request of AccorHotels chefs Dominique Frérad, Isabelle Alexandre, Thomas Roret, Xavier Leleux and Nicolas Brenier, as well as Sylvie Guerville, the Regional Recruitment Manager & Working Conditions Manager, for south France.
Just a year later, 5 women have completed the programme, and all of them have graduated with qualifications! What a success!
At the graduation ceremony, Chef Dominique Frérard had this to say: "Hafidha's arrival in my kitchen was a great occasion. She had always dreamed of cooking for a wider audience than simply a family... and the brigade was transformed as a result." Brilliantly filmed by Nils Tavernier for the We Are Women series of short films, Hafidah now works full-time at the Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port as Chef of Entracte, the restaurant for the hotel's Ambassadors!
We also met Nicolas Brenier, the young Chef at Mama Shelter Marseille, who took over the hotel kitchen at the beginning of 2015, and embarked on the Des Etoiles et des Femmes project at the same time by welcoming Sara into his kitchen; a great moment which he talks about in emotional terms:
- Why did you welcome Sara into your kitchen at a time when you already had the major challenge of managing a new team?
I responded to the Des Etoiles et des Femmes challenge by welcoming Sara because the project was extremely interesting and something new in Marseille. I was very keen to pass on my own skills and raise the profile of the Mama Shelter group through this project, and it was also an additional motivation for me to succeed in my new responsibilities.
Added to which, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to coach Sara, who is a very interesting young woman with a real passion for cooking. Which made it all the easier for me!
- So how did this year-long training experience play out in your kitchen with an apprentice from a non-conventional background?
That's an easy question to answer, because Sara is a very attentive and responsive person. The early days were pretty confusing for her, because she had to adapt her way of working to the team and the kitchen.
Perhaps the hardest part for her was to work faster and remember everything we were asking of her."
- Are you now starting all over again with a new apprentice from the programme?
Oh yes, with no hesitation whatsoever: I was offered the opportunity and I accepted immediately, and I'm delighted to be setting out on another year of adventure with this project! And who knows... if the project continues like this, I could resign!
- What does it give you? And your brigade?
It gives me a great deal of personal pleasure to be able to help women looking for a helping hand out of their problems.And for my brigade, it sets an example and proves that everything is possible.
'Where there's a will, there's a way!' sums up this programme perfectly.
I wish every success to all the women who have already completed their training and those who are just joining this fantastic project."
We can only congratulate everyone involved for their commitment and proactive involvement! Solidarity AccorHotels, whose prime mission is to support socially supportive projects sponsored by Group employees, is understandably delighted with success on such a scale!