It's a first for a fine dining restaurant.
A number of projects across Europe use catering to empower disabled people, but the Andalucian city of Jerez is the first to apply the concept to fine dining. All 20 employees at Universo Santi restaurant have some form of disability.
Antonio Vila, president of the charity Fondación Universo Accesible and the driving force behind the restaurant, says, “I always wanted to show what people with disabilities, given the right training, were capable of. They weren’t represented in the world of haute cuisine.”
The restaurant has attracted support from some of Spain’s leading chefs, who have contributed recipes and cooked there.
One of the staff is 23-year-old commis chef Alejandro Giménez, who has Down’s syndrome. “Working here has transformed my life,” says Giménez. “It’s given me the chance to become independent doing something I’ve loved since I was a kid.”