Photos: Chef Joël Garault redefines blood donation in Monaco with fusion of gourmet and giving

The blood donation experience is being given a twist this week thanks to a visionary collaboration between the Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace and Chef Joël Garault.

The ‘Semaine du Goût’ is an annual event in France. This year running from 16th to 22nd October, it is dedicated to nurturing culinary appreciation and has come to represent a nationwide celebration of the art of French cuisine and healthy eating.

In 2023, the Semaine du Goût has come to Monaco too, and specifically to the Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace (CHPG) for an event made possible thanks to a former chef at the Hôtel Hermitage, Joël Garault, and two members of the CHPG team: Director of the Blood Transfusion Centre Melanie Rinaudo Gajous and Manager of the Hospitality Department Françoise Maechling.

An innovative concept

All week long, blood donors at the CHPG will be able to enjoy a thoughtfully crafted menu created by Garault after making their important donation.  

Upon arrival, donors are being presented with a choice of sweet and savoury meal options that are freshly made there and then by a chef in an open kitchen.

Once the donation process is completed, the meal is served to the donor, accompanied by a cool beverage and an extra serving of fruit for those in need of an extra snack. 

The menu changes daily, but all are notably high in fibre and rich in vitamin C, with precise nutritional information provided on the menu. On the day that Monaco Life paid the service a visit, one such offering was an avocado mousse with Philadelphia cream cheese and lemon zest-marinated shrimp.

A culinary treat to boost donor numbers 

Just a few days in and the inspiring initiative is already proving to be a hit. According to Rinaudo Gajous, donor numbers are up a “remarkable 30% compared to usual numbers”.  

The success of this programme has ignited enthusiasm within the team at the Blood Transfusion Centre and in Chef Garault.  

“We are very supportive of it, and we are eager to re-do this experience,” Rinaudo Gajous tells Monaco Life, echoing a collective desire to carry forward this unique culinary journey into the future. 

A profound impact

Chef Garault, for his part, says he is deeply grateful for the opportunity to merge his passion for cooking with the enthusiasm of clients who are eager to contribute to the greater cause that is blood donation. 

The chef spent many years working within the Principality and is a dedicated blood donor, so welcomed the invitation of Maechling to collaborate with the CHPG on this project.  

All in all, this innovative approach to blood donation, which takes just 30 minutes but can provide a lifeline to a sick or injured individual, demonstrates the profound impact that gastronomy can have when intertwined with a spirit of compassion and purpose. 

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Photos by Monaco Life