The migrant women set to transform London’s food industry

A hugely successful crowdfunding campaign has netted social enterprise Mazí Mas over £16,000 to keep their new restaurant open and serve delicious food cooked by women from migrant and refugee communities.

The support of over 300 backers will allow them to stay at the Ovalhouse Theatre in Lambeth for another six weeks, pay their talented female chefs a fair wage and train them in the skills they need to help them find work as professional chefs.

For Roberta Siao, one of the chefs which they employ, finding paid work with Mazí Mas has been transformative. “People put you off completely by saying there are no jobs for you. That you can’t do anything.”

“If I hadn’t had Mazí Mas and everything that came from it, there would be a big gap in my life. It’s a unique opportunity for women. Together, sharing food and love, life becomes more meaningful. That’s what Mazí Mas is all about for me.”

Mazí Mas founder Niki Kopcke was inspired to start the organisation by her godmother Maria Marouli, whose dream of opening a bakery when she moved to the United States in 1967 was blocked by her husband. “Women did not go into business”, he told her.

“Knowing that we’re one step closer to making possible our vision, helping make migrant women’s voices heard and rewarding their skill: it’s an amazing feeling. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved. And so excited that more people than ever can now come and experience the chefs’ incredible food!”

The restaurant serves global home cooking which is simple, full of flavour and rooted in the chefs’ own rich cultural traditions. A meal at Mazí Mas takes diners across all corners of the world: from Iran to Brazil, via Senegal, Turkey and Ethiopia.

The end result is delicious; all while helping migrant women find their feet in the capital. All that’s left to say is eláte na fáte mazí mas: come eat with us.

Mazí Mas is at the Ovalhouse Theatre, 52-54 Kennington Oval, SE11 5SW from 17 March to 30 May.

Dinner is served Tuesday through to Saturday, 6-10 pm, with a daily changing menu headed by a different chef each night.

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