ACOGE UN PLATO (Embrace a dish)

ACOGE UN PLATO (Embrace a dish)

People being served food at a food market.

© CEAR - Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado

Contact details

Submitted by: Miguel Hernández García, Advocacy Officer

Email: [email protected]








Introduction to the project 


Spain (National application: Different cities where CEAR has offices)


May 11th 2018-Sine die


The project, “ACOGE UN PLATO”, supports directly the Global Compact of Refugee objective of “enhancing refugee self-reliance”. It addresses its “jobs and livelihoods” area of focus.

The project develops an initiative where migration and asylum are stressed in a positive way throughout a daily life element as the gastronomy is. In the workshops, stereotypes and prejudices are broken, something that comes to be especially necessary today as, to some extent, we are facing an increase of migrants´ refusal and xenophobic attitudes within host societies. Thus, the project comes to be a sound response to the mentioned above challenge that has to be attended.


PRESENTATION VIDEO: 'Acoge un plato', porque las recetas no entienden de Fronteras (because recipes disregards borders).



Project aims 

The project aims to foster inclusion of refugees within the host society throughout gastronomy, enhancing their skills, qualification and employability.

Resources used 

The project uses mainly CEAR´s financial, human and material resources, with the collaboration of the Madrid food markets to set up the building facilities required and any other material elements needed to undertake the workshops.

Concretely, in terms of the activities coursed, in order, the project resumes as follows:

  • Project web, with the “alive-recipe book” adding one after another different refugee´ recipes, remaining at the disposal of anyone interested in downloading them.
  • Taking recipes to the practical terms, teaching in the markets how to cook them.
  • Related corporate volunteering´ workshops, to sensitize employees about the situation of refugees.

In addition, as the project is documented and tracked, it is replicable anywhere else at a broader scale, in every state willing to better the integration of refugees in local societies.

Main activities of the Good Practice

From its very beginning, the project addresses the social inclusion of refugees in the Spanish society, fostering the social interaction from within the “beating heart” of a neighborhood: its food markets. These markets are authentic vibrant meeting points for the local population, busy hubs of social and commercial exchange in the middle of each district.

It is to be emphasized that “ACOGE UN PLATO is developed in agreement with Madrid City Council’s Department of Small Businesses, which has allowed us to carry out the workshops inside various of these markets. Because the workshops take place in a public space, that is, ideal setting locations for promoting cultural richness as represented by the gastronomy of different countries, the message reaches not only the paying participants but also all the other people who make up the rich tapestry of market life.

The workshops are always driven by a refugee and a professional chef. The refugees play an active part in the project from the outset by sharing their culinary knowledge and talent through workshops aimed at groups of people who pay a fee to attend in person. The busy market environment also enables refugees and members of the public to talk to each other and interact, which generates empathy for the refugee giving the workshop. Then, as a good practice it contributes to broaden the refugees´ support base, as well as to creating wide networks within the local society.

Participants feel useful with themselves and with the host society, upgrading their self-esteem thanks to imparting the workshop from their leadership; sharing their life-histories and talking with people in a natural and warm way, in the frame of a daily basis activity.

To date, several refugees participating in the project have already tasted its positive effects in terms of inclusion, and increasing opportunities to access to the job market in equal conditions. This has included: some of them having been hired or sponsored in reputable cookery schools, or even getting started with their own entrepreneur’s gastronomic brand.

Linked with the last idea, it is also to be highlighted that the project has had, from its beginning, a participatory approach, focused in the final users. That means, it is about a “life-alike recipe book”, where anyone can join as their best convenience. All in all, these are examples of participants gaining autonomous visibility, without the need of being constantly backed by any organization.



  • Madrid City Council’s Department of Small Businesses
  • Market networking places in Madrid
  • chefs’ community

Actors involved:

  • Refugees
  • CEAR’s private-sector collaborators
  • Volunteering community
  • Spanish civil society
Women standing behind a table with food.

Challenges and how they were overcome

The main challenges initially identified were:

  • We were not chef masters so as to impart the cooking training.
  • Not every participant was prepared with good communication skills to impart the workshops.

Concerning the risks identified within the project implementation:

  • New places needed to develop further related activities and expand the project in new districts and cities.
  • New chefs and participants needed to lead new cocking workshops.

All the challenges found have been successfully managed and overcome.

  • It was necessary to de-localize the project in order not to compete with other traditional cooking courses because, otherwise we would not have met the participants´ expectations.
  • Some participants took, beforehand some guiding trainings to gain communication abilities.
  • The coordination of the implementation, it rests on the “design thinking” approach, found essential to it. An initial prototype was put into a participatory testing process, receiving, thereafter, feedback to undertake improvements. To this purpose, the project keeps on counting permanently on previous participants sharing their points of views and recommendations.
  • Regarding the project´s visibility, moving from the traditional, classical and technical cookery schools, which are limited in its bounds, to the local food markets, as informal meeting points, has widened the projects chances to reach a more extent public.
  • The project is not only publicized via CEAR media sources, but also thanks to different influencers invited to the workshops and, afterwards, committed in its diffusion via their own social media, which is pretty remarkable as it also helps to reach a wider public, not necessarily engaged with CEAR´ activity or with the refugee cause or, still, in general terms, with migratory issues.

Results of the Good Practice 

  • Based on three fundamental elements: gastronomy, empathy and sustainability, the project ACOGE UN PLATO raises Spanish society’s awareness of refugee rights and the situation they are facing, countering prejudices and xenophobic dynamics.
  • The project improves the employability of refugees and cultural integration through gastronomy.
  • The project secures funding for vocational training in gastronomy and thus increases the chances of finding a job for refugees, helping to start a new life in Spain.

Next steps 

  • To train the trainers. Currently negotiating an agreement with a gastronomy school, in order to train refugees to teach food classes to particulars, making the project escalate an evolve into a more economic-sustainable model.
  • To explore the possibility of developing “food trucks” in several human rights and cultural events, to reach places where CEAR has not a formal presence.
  • To pre-design of tutorials´ platform to set up related courses online.
  • To open a “restaurant & cookery school”.
  • To start the own project´ social media (Instagram) to foster its visibility, impact and keep on increasing the participation.