Meet the pop-up restaurant that employs women from migrant and refugee communities

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Image: Mazi Mas: the restaurant run by migrant and refugee women

Via Facebook / EatMaziMas

There is pretty much a pop-up restaurant for everything: cereal, cheese toasties, acai berries, cutesy creatures. 

 

Then, there is the one that we hope will be sticking around: a roaming London-based restaurant called Mazi Mas.

Supporting migrant and refugee women by giving them paid employment in what can be an unforgiving job market, while developing their cooking skills and bringing authentic home dishes to diners, this is a pop-up with a difference.

 

Mazi Mas, meaning 'with us' in Greek, was launched by gender specialist Nikandre Kopcke in 2012 and this year the social enterprise smashed their crowd funding target to take up residence at the Ovalhouse in South London with their first restaurant .

 

Mazi Mas chef Roberta Siao said, “If I think I wouldn’t have met Niki and had Mazi Mas and everything that came from it, there would be a big gap in my life, a big gap.

 

“You come under this kind of big mantle, like something covering us. It’s magical, you don’t know how to describe it. And it’s a wonderful unique, super vital opportunity for women. “

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Mazi Mas kitchen

Via Facebook / Eatmazimas


Founded by 28-year-old Kpcke, in honour of her Greek grandmother who wanted to open a bakery but her traditional Greek husband disagreed, the chefs working at the pop-up are migrants and refugees from Iran, Ethiopia, Turkey, Senegal, Brazil and Peru. Mazi Mas brings together all these traditional foods with seasonal and sustainable ingredients all sourced locally. 

 

Speaking on a promotional video on their website, Nikandre said: “Mazi Mas is about bringing people together through food. We create employment opportunities for talented female chefs through our pop-up restaurants and catering and in that way we create a community through food. “

 

The menu offers a range of tapas-style dishes from around the world and this changes daily, depending on who is in the kitchen: one day you could get Brazilian and the next Iranian.


And perhaps best of all, the business model, which offers chefs 16 hours of paid work per week and a training programme to equip women with the skills they need to secure a permanent job in the food industry, seems adaptable to be rolled out in other countries.

 

There is already a smaller sister organisation in Sydney, Australia, Mazi Mas Sydney, which works with asylum seekers.

These women are revolutionising the food industry. 

Mazi Mas at Ovalhouse is open 6pm-10pm Tuesday – Saturday until May 30th.