Beautiful exceptional cooks make up Mazi Mas, a unique multi cultural pop-up restaurant and social enterprise that helps create employment opportunities for migrant refugee women in London.
It was created by Niki Kopcke, a half Greek half German gender specialist, who was inspired by Maria Mazoulis, a Greek woman who lived in the USA for 20 years and was an extraordinary cook. Her dream was to open her own bakery but was prevented by her husband, who had old fashioned views regarding women.
The aim of Mazi Mas is to create employment opportunities for migrant and refugee women and bring their exciting food and cultural heritages to the local community. Carolin Goethel, Mazi Mas’s outreach and recruitment coordinator, said: “We want to protect the cultural heritage that the women come with so they make their own food from their own countries.” She adds: “Usually the women we work with find it hard to get work in the UK, either because they can’t speak English very well or they have children and are not so flexible with the working hours. So we create a platform for them to work from and gain work experience from where they can move on and find a job or start their own business.”
Mazi Mas is currently run by Niki and a small but flexible team of six volunteers and talking of what has been achieved so far Carolin said: “I think it is really great that it’s been done by people who are not being paid. So eventually we would like to employ people as well.”
Aissatau Diagne, a migrant chef volunteering with Mazi Mas, tells the Big Issue online journalists that the social enterprise has helped her a lot. She adds: “Before I was applying for jobs to work in a restaurant and they told me I don’t have experience and they can’t hire me. But since I worked with Mazi Mas I have a lot of contact with Kitchenette and Morning Star Cafe and I work there as a chef and some of my colleagues help me find a job. Mazi Mas helps me a lot and I get a lot of experience.”
In the future Mazi Mas hope to work with many more women than they are at the moment and are looking for a space where they can eventually establish a permanent neighbourhood restaurant and afford all the women involved the opportunity of attaining full time employment as chefs.
Mazi Mas’s next residency starts on 1 July at The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick. To find out more visit their website