This week’s blog post looks further afield, to Paris, where celebrity chef Alain Ducasse made headlines recently.
Ducasse, who has a collection of upmarket restaurants in Paris, London, New York, Doha, Hong Kong and Monaco, is one of the most famous chefs in the world.
Recently the multi-starred Michelin chef employed Naima Benazzouz, originally from Marrakech, and trained her to cook to an extremely high standard.
Benazzouz was chosen to be part of Ducasse’s Women with a Future project which annually enrols 15 women – immigrants or ethnic minorities born in France – into a year-long specialised cooking course.
It operates in union with public authorities and provides a basic income. The aim is to lift women out of poverty by training and to remove obstacles faced by the women, whether financial or childcare obligations.
After 12 years of struggle, raising three children in a Parisian suburb, Benazzouz’s life changed dramatically with the help of this big-hearted gesture from the celebrity chef Ducasse.
Nowadays, Benazzouz leaves her home in Sarcelles, in the south of the capital, and travels daily to the Matignon, in the chic seventh arrondissement of Paris. From there, she cooks for dignitaries and sometimes at private venues such as the official residence of the French Prime Minister.
Ducasse describes his noble project as a way of helping women suffering ‘social and professional exclusion.’ Positive stories like this one need to be celebrated. We are sure that Benazzouz’s family at home in Marrakech must be extremely proud and that her cooking will be much in demand whenever she visits her home city.