At Universo Santi, in the southern Spanish city of Jerez, integrating people with disabilities into the workforce is business as usual. Their haute cuisine might soon have the recognition of the Michelin Guide as well. Aside from running a Mediterranean kitchen with the history and legacy of Santi Santamaria that proudly respects native and pure local flavours, the team has a great sense of purpose and accomplishment when it comes to breaking down barriers to employment for people with disabilities. The current staff, whose ages range from early-twenties to over sixty, had to be unemployed and living with a disability to be hired and trained by the restaurant. The current management and staffing team of twenty now includes: Alexjandro Gimene, 23, who is the commis chef and lives with Down’s Syndrome; Glori Bazan, who lives with cerebral palsy and heads up human resources; and a team of 18 others—each of whom lives with some form of disability.
“People don’t come here because the staff are disabled, they come here because it’s the best restaurant in the area. The talking is about the food,” says Antonio Vila. universosanti.com
To read more of Stephen Burgen’s article about the Universo Santi, visit theguardian.com