Usually, migrants have a lot on their plates, and this is what they might have thought at Mescladís in Barcelona.
By providing cooking and waiter training, the not-for-profit creates job opportunities for migrants in the city, facilitating their integration into the labour market.
The initiative, called ‘Cooking Opportunities’, offers new hope to those who come from far away with little in their hands and often with professional experience in a job they can no longer perform.
Barcelona is a city with a high level of diversity. We plan to do a project that would have a positive impact on the social transformation that is taking place
With its determination to contribute to social cohesion in Barcelona, Mescladís works to foster coexistence among different cultures and to guarantee rights and opportunities to everyone, says Martín Habiague, the organisation’s founder.
“Mescladís was born with that vocation: on the one hand, to channel all the positive and transformative energy available and on the other hand, to turn the promise of mutual enrichment into a reality,” Habiague explains.
This philosophy is providing the inspiration for the NGO’s intercultural cooking workshops, a meeting point where people from different cultures share both recipes and experiences.
A holistic sustainable model
Ninety per cent of the ‘Cooking Opportunities’ programme is financed by revenues from the Espai Mescladís and the Restaurant-School eateries. However, Mescladís’ mission doesn’t end with food: the NGO is equally committed to establishing itself as a laboratory for social change in both immigration management and sustainability.
“We want to be sustainable from a holistic point of view,” Habiague says, adding that the organisation’s sustainability project is both environmental and social.
At Mescladís, decisions are reached over the course of assemblies that ensure a democratic process; the organisation is also committed to responsible and sustainable consumption. The wine, yoghurts or ice creams that can be enjoyed in the restaurant are produced by cooperatives; the water is not bottled; the vegetables are local and seasonal; the beer is home-brewed and the juices are made with organic fruit.
Hundreds of success stories
Habiague admits that due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 and 2021 have been very difficult years. However, the organisation “has navigated Covid-related restrictions and received support from the neighbourhood,” he says, welcoming more than 200 people a day while keeping health regulations in place.
The NGO has plenty of stories to share after helping over 900 students, many of whom now work at Mescladís.
Andrea came from Chile where she was a teacher; she now oversees training sessions, after starting off as a student here. Carlitos is a refugee from Venezuela who just joined the team. Mohamed became a cook after the organisation helped him to adjust his immigration status. Moha, Jousef, Kushbu, Abdou are only some of the names behind Mescladís’ many success stories.
Now, finding a job might be more… like a piece of cake.