Roberta was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She studied sociology and anthropology at university and subsequently worked for the Central Bank of Brazil for ten years. After meeting her future husband on a holiday in London, she moved to the UK permanently and had a son, Thomas, who is now eight years old. When Thomas was born she decided to stay at home to look after him, and he now accompanies her on her culinary explorations of London’s markets, cafés, and food festivals. Roberta has loved cooking since she was a child, when she used to conduct barbeque experiments in the backyard of her family home over a couple of bricks and a wood fire. She believes that food is about nourishing, caring, and sharing, and is fundamental to a life well-lived. Roberta’s culinary curiosity is insatiable; she devotes hours to thumbing through cookbooks of world cuisines and seeking out new spices. She is equally passionate about social justice, which has led her to volunteer for organisations such as FoodCycle. Roberta will be head chef at Mazi Mas’ Brazilian-themed pop-up in December.
Fitsum was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She earned a diploma in Secretarial Science and worked in an insurance company, then in an NGO promoting literacy and education. In the evenings, she pursued a four-year degree in Office Management and Technology Systems; during this time she also married and gave birth to a son, Nathaniel. When Fitsum was six months shy of graduating, her husband was granted a visa to come to the UK and work. Fitsum stayed behind in Addis Ababa to complete her degree, and then joined her husband in London in 2008. Her daughter, Ruth, was born the following year. Like many other families in Addis Ababa, Fitsum had had a maid to take care of cooking and housekeeping while she was working; she has only learned to cook since arriving in London. She describes her experience as very similar to Thamara’s, learning beloved recipes from her mother and other female relatives over the phone. Now cooking is her passion, and she dreams of opening her own café serving Ethiopian coffee and breakfast – in particular the Ethiopian breakfast specialty chechebsa, shredded bread with butter and berbere.
Born in the Philippines, Jamima is a community organiser and activist who came to the UK as a political refugee. She persevered through initial difficult years to take up studies in Politics and Sociology, in which she holds a diploma. Jamima now works part-time for Kanlungan, a charity that supports the empowerment of migrant Filipinos in the UK, where she advocates for undocumented migrant workers, migrant domestic workers, and migrant care workers. Jamima started cooking at age eight, and at age eleven became responsible for the cooking in her family. She recalls that they could not afford seasonings, so she put her all into cooking, striving to create unforgettable meals despite the limited ingredients available to her. Jamima prefers cooking and eating at home, or at the home of friends, to eating in restaurants; in her words, “home cooked food heals wounds.” Beware: she is a chilli fiend.
Aissatou, also known as Aida, comes from Senegal. She was born in a village called Meckhé and grew up in Dakar, the capital city. She finished secondary school and planned to study law at university but had to join her husband in London in 2012. Aida learnt to cook Senegalese food, like the very popular thiebu dien (rice and fish with vegetables), from her mother and sister. When in Senegal, she didn’t cook a lot except at weekends, holidays and big parties but, on coming to the UK, Aida started to cook frequently and it has now become her main hobby. Aida likes to discover new recipes on youtube, as well as creating her own. She enjoys cooking delicious dishes to make people happy and also wants to have feedback about her cooking. Aida adores when people tell her that they like her food and she loves cooking for family and friends. Her dream is to have a restaurant in Senegal and she would also like to promote the use of local healthy products in the country. In the meantime, Aida wants to be involved in social enterprise to help people on a limited budget to eat delicious and healthy food.
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