Homeless youths invited to Michelin-starred ‘dine in the dark’ experience

A London restaurant famous for feeding guests in the dark will offer 50 young homeless people the chance to experience a meal by Michelin-starred chef Julien Machet next week.

Joining forces with the youth homeless charity Centrepoint, Dans le Noir is hosting the event to celebrate its 10th year in London – and to raise awareness of the barriers many people face in finding work.

The Dans le Noir eating experience is entirely in the dark

Centrepoint’s Head of Skills and Employment Sadie Odeogberin said: “The dinner rewards those young people who have engaged with learning and support programmes at Centrepoint, including those young people now working as waiting staff at events catered by our partners at The Clink Charity [a prisoner training initiative offering hospitality training].”

Sadie argued that providing young homeless people with somewhere to stay isn’t enough – they need help to get into the workforce too.

“The number of young people rough sleeping in London has more than doubled in the last four years, but providing a safe place to stay isn’t enough to solve the youth homelessness crisis. That’s why Centrepoint supports each young person staying with us to find a job or a route into education or training,” she said.

“It’s not an easy journey for a homeless young person to make and thanks to the generosity of Dans Le Noir, we can reward them an experience they will never have had before. Homeless young people are every bit as talented as their peers and with the right support and hard work they can fulfil their potential.”

Like Centrepoint, Dans le Noir helps people out of difficult circumstances and into work.

Half of the staff employed at Dans le Noir have a disability, with visually impaired and blind staff serving in the restaurant. The concept dining experience also aims to change people’s view of the world by reversing their perspective.

Edouard De Broglie, who founded Dans le Noir in 2004, said: “50% of our staff have a high disability, yet we still operate an efficient and profitable company. We want to show big companies that those with disabilities shouldn’t be limited to performing only menial jobs.”

The dinner will take place on Tuesday 8 March, when 50 of Centrepoint’s clients aged 16-25 will dine in total darkness, guided and served by blind people.

Edouard said he hopes the dinner will provide inspiration for the young people that attend.

“I love the idea that a company employing blind people can bring the light to the sighted,” he said.

“I hope these young people will enjoy and feel good guided by people that are also not so lucky in life, but found their way thanks to Dans le Noir.”

Statistics are bleak for people with a disability who are seeking work. The most recent official government statistics show that, in 2012, just 46.3% of people with a disability were in employment, compared to 76.4% of people without a disability.