Michelin-star chef serves Belgian homeless after coronavirus closure


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The chef at one of Belgium’s oldest and most prestigious restaurants, which has been shuttered by the coronavirus, is feeding homeless people once a week, echoing initiatives by chefs across Europe.

Lionel Rigolet of Comme Chez Soi, whose elaborate dishes cost as much as 265 euros ($287), began cooking and serving food to 100 homeless people every Thursday from his kitchen since Belgium went into lockdown on March 18.

While Comme Chez Soi’s restaurant kitchen is closed, Michelin two-star chef Rigolet has been making spaghetti bolognaise with the flair he normally brings to his truffles, sole and lobster.

“If I can spread the joy of my profession to the homeless, then I’ll do it with pleasure,” he said.

Approached by a local aid organisation running soup kitchens, Rigolet said he was eager to help when he realised the lockdown denied homeless people the chance to eat once a day at sandwich shops and supermarkets.

His wife, Comme Chez Soi’s manager Laurence Wynants, was equally supportive.

“We felt that I could also do something. We all think of hospital workers, those who are sick, but there are also those who sleep in the streets,” said Wynants, whose great grandfather founded the Brussels restaurant in 1926.

It has lifted the spirits of Abdoulaye Koulibaly, a homeless man from Mali who has been living on Brussels’ streets for two years. “It’s really good, clean, I love tasting it.”

Reporting by Clement Rossignol and Bart Biesemans; Editing by Giles Elgood