Zosima, 29, from Manchester, is a self-professed “Third Culture Kid”. She is half Filipino and half English, and grew up in the Middle East with lots of different cuisines around her. Zosima developed a love of cooking and built a career in the hospitality sector before starting her Filipino food business, Mama Z, with the help of The Prince’s Trust.

“I worked my way up from working at bars and clubs to managing a deli. I wanted to work for myself, but I didn’t have the funds or the business knowledge. There’s a lot of politics in the food industry, especially when you’re the only woman in the kitchen. I did really enjoy my job cooking and building rapport with customers, but I wasn’t supported by the people around me or by management. 

“After one particularly bad shift, I decided to get out of the toxic environment. I randomly looked online and saw there were cheap flights to the Philippines, and I wanted to go for two reasons; to connect with my family and heritage, and to learn more about Filipino cooking." 

Zosima spent three months in the Philippines honing her Filipino cooking skills and knowledge. When she returned to Manchester she came to The Prince’s Trust for support starting her business. 

“I did the Enterprise course which was really engaging. I learnt lots about bookkeeping and finance, got legal help with contracts and had access to helpful contacts to grow my business going forward. At the end of the course, I pitched to The Trust for funding and was awarded a £5,000 grant.

“I was also given a business mentor from The Prince’s Trust who knew lots about the hospitality industry and helped me with a lot of problem solving."

Zosima launched her street food career in 2017 as Mama Z, and since then has catered large events, run pop-ups, secured a permanent street food residency in Manchester and launched her own brand of Banana ketchup.

Now, I’m working on distributing my sauces nationwide, running supper clubs and catering large events. I also want to start teaching Filipino cooking classes.

Zosima was nominated for the MFDF 2020 Lockdown Hero Award for her work sending Filipino food to NHS frontline workers. During the pandemic, she made hundreds of meals for staff in hospitals and care homes across the North-West.