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November 1, 2017

Mazi Mas brings us a taste of Syria

This weekend, aspiring chef Maysoon Alsafadi will be serving the flavours of her childhood in her new home town of Adelaide.

  • Interview and pictures: Sharmonie Cockayne
  • Words: Farrin Foster

When Maysoon Alsafadi first began learning to cook by her mother’s side in Syria, she did not realise that the skills and knowledge she was developing would one day become the basis for a career in Australia.


Mazi Mas Adelaide’s Syrian dinners take place this Friday and Saturday – November 3 & 4 – at Tandanya from 7:30pm.

Tickets and more information are available here.

“In our culture all the girls and women know how to cook,” says Maysoon, “so I learnt from my Mum.”

In Syria Maysoon studied agriculture and law, but immigrating to Australia brought about a career change. Rather than spending years studying to achieve the Australian equivalents of the qualifications she already had, she wanted to get into the workforce.

“It would have been a lot of time studying, and I wanted to start work,” she says. “And I like cooking – it makes me feel interested and relaxed.

“I went to Thebarton Senior College to study English and to start studying food. The people there supported us and supported me and my sister, and they became family and friends for me.”

Maysoon now works at a café in Glenunga and next year where she will be starting her chef’s apprenticeship there.

But this weekend she takes a big step forward in her cooking career. On Friday and Saturday she will be taking on the role of head chef for the first time at two pop-up dinners held by Mazi Mas – an organisation that runs food events with new migrant women.

For the dinners, Maysoon has created a three-course menu that incorporates many of Syria’s most loved dishes such as muhammara (a pomegranate dip), ouzi (a rice and lamb main), and basbousa – a semolina cake.

“When the ladies ask me, I feel happy to do it, because first of all I will be able to get people to know Syrian food and they can try it. And to be a head chef this is the first time for me – it’s very exciting,” she says.

“When I make this food I feel so happy and excited – I remember when I cook it at home. When I make the dinner party with my friends, I always share a dish like this.

“I don’t have a lot of friends here, but I do it with my family and I do it now with Mazi Mas – cooking with other people.”

This Friday and Saturday is a chance for Adelaide to get to know a little more about Syria, and a chance for Maysoon to get a little closer to her aspiration of running her own café in her new home of Australia. And that kind of mutual exchange is what a real community is all about.

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