televisionDieter Koppens, 44, will open the doors of the new ‘Misverstand Restaurant’ in Eén from 16 March: the first restaurant in Belgium where all staff have been diagnosed with early dementia. Because of their illness, these people regularly have to deal with misunderstandings. In addition, they often have to stop working, which limits their self-confidence. The Restaurant Misunderstanding wants to change that: by showing the outside world what they can do.
Of course, not everything will work smoothly, because no employee already has experience in the hospitality industry. But making mistakes doesn’t hurt at this restaurant. There is also room for grief, and above all they find support and understanding from each other, from Dieter and Chef Sippy Nobles and from expert Anouk de Bruyne from the Regional Expertise Center for Dementia in Antwerp. By the way, Nobles has already acquired his spurs as a social entrepreneur, among other things, his venture Instroom, a restaurant in Eilandje in Antwerp where the kitchen team consists of foreign-speaking newcomers. Sippy’s grandfather also had dementia and the chef is proud to head up the Restaurant Misunderstanding.
“When we hear the word ‘dementia,’ we often think of older people who are forgetful,” Dieter says. “Unfortunately, people also face this disease at a young age. Suddenly you have to stop working, you lose a little independence but you also lose yourself little by little. That must be very heavy, also for their environment. Both my grandmothers got Alzheimer’s later in life So I’ve experienced first-hand what it does to someone. With “Restaurant Misunderstanding” we want to show what our staff can still do. I’m really looking forward to running the restaurant with my eight colleagues.”
The age of the entire Kitchen Brigade and operating staff at “Restaurant Misverstand” is between 46 and 64 years old. Because they all developed symptoms before age 65, they were diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Seven have Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia – and one person has frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
“Restaurant Misunderstanding”: From March 16th every Wednesday at 8.35pm at One and via VRT NU.
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