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September 20, 2016

Mazi Mas launches in Adelaide

Bringing delicious one-off food events, and support for refugee and new migrant women.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster

Food and its power to cross almost all borders is at the heart of the Mazi Mas movement, which this weekend comes to Adelaide for the first time.


Mazi Mas’ inaugural Adelaide dinners take place this Friday and Saturday (Sept 23 & 24). More details and tickets are available here.

The introduction of Mazi Mas to Adelaide has so far been supported by Parwana, who have helped with fundraising, the ARA, and the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, The Happy Motel, Alpha Box & Dice, Ochota Barrels, Commune of Buttons and Fox Creek Wines – all of whom have provided in-kind support for the dinner events.

Originating in London with founder Nikandre Kopcke, the model supports new migrant and refugee women to host dinners featuring the traditional cooking of their countries. In preparing for the events, the women receive training in things like food health and safety, kitchen work, front of house skills and are also welcomed into a community of friends.

“Some of them are involved in the program to gain that experience and then to go on and find work in hospitality, which we’ll support them with,” says Nicole Donnelly – one of the organisers of Mazi Mas in Adelaide.

“Others want to be a part of the program to be a part of a supportive community and also just because they really like the initiative.”

Nicole and five other Adelaide locals – Rhiannon Mercurio, Fatema Ayubi, Maureen Ritchie, Koruna Schmidt Mumm and Georgina Horne – took the initiative to bring Mazi Mas to Adelaide after seeing its success in London and interstate.

Working with the Australian Refugee Association (ARA), Nicole and co have started collaborating with ten women who have immigrated to Adelaide recently.

“This round they’re all refugees from Africa,” says Nicole. “Some have been here for five years, others one-to-two years. The women are from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Sierra Leone.

“They’ve done their RSA and also food safety and hygiene training. We pay for them to go through those programs and we were with them while they were going through those programs as well just for additional support.”

Now, the Mazi Mas Adelaide team are ready to host their first event – with three-course dinners planned for this Friday and Saturday night.

All of the participants will be working either in the kitchen or front of house at the dinners, while one of the participants will be taking on the role of head chef, supported by Fatema and Rhiannon from the organising committee who are both professional chefs. The menu for the event is heavily influenced by the food culture of the head chef’s native Eritrea.

The work done by the Mazi Mas participants is paid at award rates, and while the income it provides is important, Nicole hopes the outcomes for the women involved will be much broader.

“We hope they feel empowered and are emboldened to fulfil any career dreams they have and also to know that they’re part of a supportive Mazi Mas community, and that this is not their only interaction with us,” she says.

“We’ll provide them with ongoing support. If they want pursue cooking as a career or open up their own business in the future, we’re hoping to be able to expand through grants and be able to provide those opportunities for them.”

While this weekend’s dinners are the first outing for Mazi Mas locally, Nicole and the team have big ideas for the future. With regular bi-monthly (ish) dinners in the works, as well catering services planned, Adelaide will be seeing a lot more from the team and tasting a lot more food from around the world.


The participants developing the menu for this weekend’s events

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