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The Way to Integration Goes through the Stomach

The way to integration goes through the stomach


Vegetable stew, curry rice, coalfish fillet – in the canteen of the Higher Regional Court in Cologne there is something for every taste. The menu is as various as the employees of the integration company are different. took a peek inside the pots.

Photo: Hand dispenses bell pepper on several salads

Each day Bettina Kordelis cuts five kilogrammes only of cucumbers;

Quickly her fingers dispense the vegetables in small white ceramic bowls. Cucumbers, tomatoes, iceberg salad – all this she has already cut this morning by the kilo. “Every day we serve about 120 to 150 salads,“ says Bettina Kordelis and dispenses skilful the dressing to the arranged servings.

The petite woman with the blond short haircut works together with five colleagues in the canteen of the Higher Regional Court (HRC) in Cologne. From a total of six employees two have a disability. Bettina Kordelis is one of them: On account of her psyche she has a severe disability and works as a part-time employee.

Many people with handicaps have difficulties to gain a foothold on the general job market. Integration companies seize this problem and steer against it. They specifically hire people with handicap, so that they have a professional perspective again. The canteen in the HRC Cologne is also one of them and belongs to the DK integration company.

The concept is successful: In the meantime, the enterprise offers his gastronomic services in seven towns of North Rhine-Westphalia. The commercial unit in the HRC Cologne is new. „Since the beginning of the year we cook here for about 300 guests per day,“ says Boris Rywelski. He is the chef de cuisine and works for a long time for the company: „Previously I was responsible in the LVR clinic in Cologne Merheim for the restaurant and the kiosk,“ he remembers.

Photo: Man prepares the dishwashing conveyor

Noreddine Gueldi is also responsible for cleaning the dishes; ©

Steppingstone traineeship

From the LVR clinic Rywelski has also brought along two reliable employees: Noreddine Gueldi and Bettina Kordelis. In the HRC the 35-year-old Gueldi who is also psychically severely disabled works as a dishwasher and kitchen helper. In the LVR clinic he had started as a trainee; meanwhile he is permanently employed.

Gueldi removes the leftovers from plates and bowls, puts the dishes on the big dishwashing conveyor. Slowly the things disappear in the big, metal monster. At the end they come out clean and shiny again. This is one of his tasks. „If worst comes to worst, I can also take over other work; for example, roasting meat or things like that,“ explains Gueldi.

„For the gastronomy we hire either people with physical or psychic disability. In the LVR clinic we have already worked with deaf, people with a limited field of vision or with people with psychic handicap. It is only important that the people do their work properly,“ says chef Rywelski while he cuts courgettes for the Italian stir-fry. „For example, we cannot occupy wheelchair drivers here – the kitchen is not barrierfree.“ Few moments later he hurries again to the next job.

Photo: Man with a stir-fry

Boris Rywelski brings the Italian stir-fry to the vegetable bar; ©

Integration successful

Dishes clatter, serving carts roll by the area. It is eleven o'clock – the food distribution is right around the corner. Rywelski and his colleagues wind through the narrow ways of the canteen kitchen, everybody concentrated on his duties. However, in spite of the hectic rush the employees are in a good mood.

Also Bettina Kordelis has a smile on the lips: „Together with Mr. Rywelski I am also responsible for the food distrobution now. This is always very stressful. But I try to ignore the pressure and to simply concentrate on my work,“ explains the 40-year-old. After the food distribution she clears up her workplace in the cold kitchen again.

The fact that the canteen is an integration company, everybody knows in the Higher Regional Court. And it plays no special role for anybody, there are no fears of contact. „On the contrary! The booth is actually always full. On some days the people queue up to the front door and sometimes have to wait, until a seat is free,“ reports Rywelski.

Nadine Lormis


Very delicious! The editorial team was allowed to look over the shoulder of an integration company in the canteen of the Higher Regional Court (HRC) in Cologne and see how their work looks like.



Foto: Integration geht durch den Magen

The Way to Integration Goes through the Stomach

Very delicious! The editorial team was allowed to look over the shoulder of an integration company in the canteen of the Higher Regional Court (HRC) in Cologne and see how their work looks like.


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