From culinary nomad to social activist

Episode #19. Walter El Nagar – Wednesday 7 October 2020

For this new episode I am delighted to discuss with chef Walter El Nagar.

Originally from Milan, Walter is a former art curator and self-taught chef with a strong sense of social commitment. In 2008 he moved from Italy to the USA, where he set foot in Los Angeles and created his first pop-up restaurant, called “The Barbershop”. A couple of years later the now called “Mad Chef” decided to take this successful concept on a year-long culinary world tour: from Barcelona to Ibiza, Moscow, Tulum, Singapore and finally Dubai.

When he came to Geneva, Walter first worked in a luxury hotel before leaving to follow his own path. It was time to create a restaurant living up to the values he holds dear: fostering social inclusion, reducing food waste and bringing people together. “Le Cinquième Jour” (“The Fifth Day”) was born. This 12-seater chef’s countertop was open to the public four days a week, while the fifth day was reserved to the homeless and people in need, where they could eat the same tasting menu for free. Eventually the restaurant closed, but Walter didn’t stop there and created the Mater Fondazione to build on this model and extend his social endeavours. Needless to say the newly formed organisation was very active during the COVID-19 crisis, providing meals and support to the local community.

In this episode Walter looks back on his journey, from traveling the world as a culinary nomad to being actively involved in projects with a social cause.


To follow Walter and discover the Mater Fondazione:

In my opinion it’s time to show that if you want to do what you do best, you don’t have to cater only to the elite. Because that is a limitation. This is why the Mater Fondazione is called “democratic cuisine” – in a sense it is a democratisation of our work.

? Walter El Nagar – Episode 19

Pictures Walter El Nagar – All rights reserved

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Episode 19