“There are millions of us, an invisible army,” says Roberta, from Brazil, over the noise of her busy kitchen. By the sink, Marlith from Peru is filling pans with water. At the stove, Azeb from Ethiopia is making cheese. Itʼs Friday afternoon and thereʼs a lot to get done – their restaurant will be busy tonight.
“We are mothers,” shouts Roberta as the pots bang together and the multilingual chatter slips back and forth between English, Spanish and Italian. “We are the people who make the world go round, but who no one sees.
Roberta has worked in kitchens before – including some pretty classy ones – but none like the one she now manages. Mazi Mas is staffed exclusively by women from migrant and refugee communities.
“Here is the family, the community, the sharing. It is cooking with love,” says Roberta. “And you wouldn’t get this in another restaurant, because nobody would employ us.
Mazi Mas is a social enterprise that helps women from migrant and refugee communities to develop their cooking skills and learn how to set up their own businesses. It started as a pop-up venture in 2012. From March to December 2015, they ran their restaurant at Ovalhouse theatre and since January 2016 are based at The Russet in Hackney.
The name comes from the traditional Greek welcome “Elate na fate mazi mas”, which means, "Come eat with us”. Its founder, a half-Greek, half-German chef called Nikandre Kopcke, was inspired by her Greek godmother, whose dream of opening a bakery was quashed by a husband who believed women should stay at home.Click here to view full story >