July 2024

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Mazí Mas is a London based pop-up, or roaming, restaurant. The name derives from the Greek phrase Eláte na fáte mazí masis which means Come eat with us. The owner, Nikandre Kopcke, named the restaurant in honor of her Greek grandmother. Kopcke’s grandmother always dreamed of owning her own bakery, but was never able to achieve her dream because she was held back by oppressive, patriarchal values. Her traditional Greek husband would not allow her to open her own bakery. He believed that women only belonged at home, cooking and taking care of children. Kopcke is using her restaurant to liberate women from these types of limitations.

Empowering women who had no opportunities

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Many of the women who work at Mazí Mas are mothers. They had trouble finding work in the UK. Some of them are highly qualified in their own countries; one woman even owned her own medical practice in Sri Lanka. But their qualifications were not recognized in the UK. Many of them had put their careers on hold for their families, and the jobs would go to the younger candidates. They all had skills in the kitchen that were not being appreciated. Globally, women have been oppressed by being denied education, job training, and bound to stay in the kitchen. Kopcke decided to turn this into a way to empower women.

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The power of food

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Kopcke hired women who are migrants and refugees from Iran, Ethiopia, Turkey, Senegal, Brazil, and Peru. Even though the staff comes from so many different backgrounds, they are all brought together by the power of delicious food. That’s something that everyone can appreciate! Kopcke takes six chefs at a time and the menu changes to fit the countries where the women are from. They are taught valuable workplace skills and are encouraged to take business classes. Several have found full-time jobs after working in the kitchen.

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 A safe space for women

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Kopcke says that there is a food revolution in the UK and ethnic food is taking the country by storm. But you can’t find kind of food that people cook at home, the kind of food mothers make for their children. To her, that is the type that is most interesting. It feels like home. She notes that the food industry is dominated by men, yet the cooking at home is mostly done by women. She hopes to change that by keeping her staff fully female. For the last two years, the staff has organized events and residencies around London. They have been recruiting from the community. The ultimate goal is to have a permanent restaurant. In October, Mazí Mas will have its first event in Sydney. This movement could potentially spread across the globe and empower women everywhere.

NEXT: 26 Families Show You What They Eat And How Much They Spend For Food. Click here >>>   

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