Mazí Mas is a pop-up restaurant that showcases the culinary talents and diverse cultural heritages of migrant women in London. ‘Mazí Mas’ means ‘with us’ in Greek, and creates a space in which long-term unemployed and socially marginalised women can open their own restaurant, an unrealised dream for many.
Our aims are to give women an independent income, to develop their culinary skills in a professional setting, to reduce the social isolation that many of them experience, and to preserve their recipes and diverse cultural heritages. We work with women who have been out of the labour market for many years and therefore find it exceedingly difficult to find work, let alone work that is fulfilling and promotes a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. Some of these women have few formal qualifications, some have qualifications which don't transfer to the UK, some are looking for employment after a long absence, and some have a criminal record or are otherwise stigmatised. These women tend to have extraordinary culinary skills, however, given their social roles as mothers and carers.
Mazí Mas believes that we have much to learn from the experiences of refugee and migrant women about thrift, sustainability, slow food, and making things by hand. We seek to recognise and reward their skills and expertise, and to build networks that will encourage and support them to start their own food businesses or women-led food cooperatives.
Although we presently operate on a monthly pop-up basis (we've had two events so far), our long-term goal is a permanent restaurant that employs a changing collective of women. We hope at this scale to be able to also recruit unemployed young people as apprentices, thus widening local opportunities for employment. In the third and final phase of project, we plan to franchise the Mazí Mas model, freely offering knowledge, training and support to anyone wishing to reproduce our business model in their local community.
Funded by London (April 2013)