Mazi, short for Mazel, started her career working in education both in the UK and her native Israel, before deciding to set up her own business with her husband, Samuel, a qualified chef. Initially, the couple worked on small events from their home, whilst Mazi continued her teaching, but as the business began to grow, she chose to focus her efforts on catering, and in the past 5 years, Cohen’s Caterers has been going from strength to strength.
Cohen’s Cateres currently work from a unit in Tottenham, but are planning to move to bigger premises soon, and are certified under the Kedassia, as well as KLBD. As well as simcha catering, they also cover corporate events and private dining for businesses and organisations, and have previously worked with the Israeli Ambassador.
Another area that Mazi has developed is catering for non-supervised events where kosher meals are required. She works closely with the client and the main caterer to create kosher options of the same menu. “The food is presented on proper china plates with real cutlery, and does not look too different from what everyone else is eating, so the guests don’t feel left out or different, which I think is important.” Cohen’s Caterers is also able to work with groups and events based outside of London, offering either fully prepared catering that can be delivered, or supplying an onsite chef.
Although she had never run a business before, Mazi has learnt a lot, and really enjoys the challenge. “I always knew that I wanted to open my own business, and have always been a hardworking person, so am happy to put in the hours.” Having three children, aged 8, 11 and 15, she often has to juggle her business and home life, but feels she has managed to find the right balance. “Cohen’s Caterers is very much a family business, and I love that they are involved along with myself and my husband. I think it is important that my children recognise that in order to achieve your dreams, you have to work hard, and nothing is just given to you. I work hard during the day, but I make sure that I am finished by 4pm, so that I can be at home when the children come back from school, and I can spend time with them. I then begin again at around 8pm, and can work until late. I love meeting and working with new people, and to share in their special events, which makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
For many, the leap from education to catering could be considered an extreme career change, but Mazi recognises similarities between the two. “I think that both teaching and catering are very giving professions. With teaching, you are giving information and knowledge to students for their future, and with catering you are giving your clients happy memories and adding to their celebrations through the food you serve. For me, whether it is teaching or catering, I always do it from my heart.” She has stayed in touch with many of her students, and in her new role has even been responsible for catering at their barmitzvahs.
When it comes to finding the right caterer for your event, Mazi recognises that this can be a very difficult task, but has some words of advice. “Money is a key consideration when organising an event or simcha, but try not to let that dictate in terms of caterers. You can always make things work for your money, if you are willing to be flexible, and I would suggest getting at least three quotes so that you can compare prices.” As well as the cost, Mazi believes that it is essential that you feel comfortable with the caterer, and that you can work with them together. “Sometimes it is good to get recommendations not only about the food, but about the person you will be dealing with, and whether you feel that you can work together. For this reason, Mazi would suggests working with smaller companies which can offer a more personal approach. “I always try and attend every event that I have been working on, or if I am not able to another member of our team will attend, so that the client knows that Cohen’s Caterers are in control.”
Working in the catering industry is not only about food, but very much about people, and understanding that each client has their own tastes. “I love meeting and working with new people, and being sociable is a big part of the job. The Jewish market is tough, and there is a lot of competition, so you have to flexible, and always looking to try something new and different, which I think my clients like.” When a potential enquiry comes in, Mazi will make contact usually within 24 hours to discuss further. “I like to chat to work out what they want, and will then send over initial menu options as a starting point.” She will then organise a face-to-face chat to discuss in more detail. Once the booking has been made, a confirmation and welcome pack will be sent with further information, and closer to the time, tastings are arranged and final details of set up and numbers will be discussed.
With many people’s tastes moving away from more traditional menus, Mazi feels that the style and flavours of her food offer something new and exciting. “Our food has a lot of flavours and textures, and we can work with specific cuisines or tastes to make the menu unique.” One of the most popular dishes served by Cohen’s Caterers is the schwarma, which Mazi says is ‘always a big hit.’ When it comes to trends, she has also noticed that the concept of ‘bowl food’ has become very popular. “It is a less formal option than a sit-down meal, and the food is served by waiters directly to the guests. There is a lot of choice, rather than just having one plateful of food, and it means that unlike a buffet they don’t have to queue, so it does not stop them from socialising or dancing.”
Mazi very much believes ‘never say no to anything’ when it comes to developing her business. She recently catered for a group of businessmen and women who came to the UK from Colombia for a work trip. A member of the group enjoyed her food so much, he booked her for his wedding in the UK next year. “If I had not done that initial job, I would not have received the booking, which shows you have to be flexible, and try new things to see how they work out.”
For anyone who might be thinking of setting up their own business, Mazi encourages them to go for it, and never give up. “As I tell my children, it is important to follow your dreams, and to work hard to achieve what you want.”
Cohen’s Caterers would like to offer a special offer to Jewish Weekly readers. Any bookings made by the end of December 2017 would receive a free sweets station, worth £350. Please contact via www.cohenscaterers.com or call Mazi on 07853 721 787. Please also follow Cohen’s Caterers Facebook page for further offers and monthly promotions.
Do you know anyone who specialises in an area of female expertise and would like to be featured on this page? Let us know by emailing