If you want to get into Refettorio Paris, an exclusive restaurant in the crypt of the Madeleine church in the 8th arrondissement, your best bet is by signing up to do the dishes. While the star-studded list of guest chefs—including acclaimed restaurateurs Alain Ducasse, Anne Sophie Pic, and Tatiana Levha—makes Refettorio sound like the pop-up event of the century, this dining experience is not intended for foodies with Instagram accounts. Refettorio aims to save its tables for those in need: refugees, low-income families, the elderly, and people “in situations of social vulnerability.”  

Refettorio Paris restaurant founded by Italian chef Massimo Bottura. Here is surrounded by French Michelin-starred chefs like Yannick Alléno and Anne-Sophie Pic in their whites.
Refettorio Paris – Featured image top: Freddy Gutierrez/ Above: Shehanhanwellage

Building on the existing social restaurant housed in the church, Le Foyer de la Madeleine, which serves homemade seasonal meals at affordable prices (7-9 ) to 250 people daily, Refettorio uses its star power to serve gourmet meals to underserved communities. The restaurant is the brainchild of Food for Soul, a non-profit association founded by chef Massimo Bottura and Lara Gilmore. The Paris incarnation of the concept follows on the heels of successful sister Refettorio restaurants in Milan, Brazil, London, Modena, and Bologna. 

At Refettorio Paris restaurant, street artist JR did all the artwork, including the design for the plates, which he is holding up (left). Refettorio staff serves up meals (right).
Refettorio Paris – Jean Blaise Hall

The Parisian chapter embraces the group’s mission statement by repurposing 130 kilograms (286 pounds) of donated “surplus ingredients” and thereby reducing food waste. Refettorio chefs then transform the donated food that would have been disposed of into meals that feed 100 people a night. Dinner is reserved for people with a Refettorio card and is completely free.

Refettorio restaurant in Paris has artworks by street artist JR, like these clouds hanging in the crypt dining room (left). The Refettorio staff making dinner for those in need (right).
Refettorio Paris – JR / Shehanhanwellage

Refettorio Paris not only provides a healthy, gastronomic dining experience to those with little access to high-quality cuisine and ingredients, it also offers the full restaurant experience, attentive servers and all. Added touches come from world-renowned artists and architects, such as JR and Nicola Delon, who contributed their talents to create a stimulating and welcoming fine dining environment. 

If you’re interested in volunteering at Refettorio, visit their website to find out how you can work in the kitchen or dining room, or even help organize food donations and fundraisers. 

A poster for Refettorio restaurant in Paris, in the Madeleine Church crypt, serves meals to those in need.

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Written by Emily Dilling for HiP Paris. Looking for a fabulous vacation, or long term, rental in Paris, Italy, France or elsewhere in Europe? Let us know. We can help!


Emily Dilling

Emily Dilling is a France based writer and author of My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes. In 2005 Emily moved to Paris from her native California and began exploring the cities markets, restaurants, and cafés. In 2010 she founded the blog Paris Paysanne, where she writes about her favorite addresses and artisans in the city. Emily currently lives in the Loir-et-Cher region of France, where she writes and works in the grapevines.

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