When we first opened Zayane 3 years ago, we did so with the expressed desire of
wanting to be a contributing member of the local Notting Hill community. Of
course, the foodies among us might suggest that we did that the moment in
which we began cooking gourmet, authentic Moroccan food with a modern twist.
While I certainly like that thought, the truth is that if we were to lean merely on
that significant aspect of Zayane, we’d be prioritising exclusivity over inclusivity.
For instance, not everyone can afford to go out for a meal at a restaurant like
Zayane, high value for money though our prices certainly are. Beyond that, not
everyone likes Moroccan food (no matter how delicious it may be!) and some
people don’t even enjoy going out for a meal.
At Zayane we wanted to cast our net as far and wide as possible to get to know as many people in the community
as possible – not just our happy, well-fed customers.
The way we began doing
this came from an idea that sprouted from my son and co-Executive Head Chef
Joe’s beautiful mind: Zayane’s Junior Chefs School.
When Joe was seven years old I had the idea of one day teaching children how to
cook, but crucially the importance of enjoying fruit and vegetables for one’s
health. The idea was inspired by Joe’s favourite childhood activity – a Saturday
junior chef course he took at the University of West London. He loved it so much
that he decided to go back when he was 18 to follow his dream of becoming a
chef. Upon opening Zayane, Joe told me he wanted to share a similar experience
with the children of Notting Hill.
The Zayane Junior Chefs School not only teaches
children how to cook, but as we work with kids who suffer from a range of
eating-related mental health issues who are patients at Chelsea Hospital, it is
also part of their treatment to help acquire a healthy and positive relationship
For the past 3 years our children have come to Zayane each week for
an hour-long cooking class where we prepare and eat a healthy dish. We make it
as fun as possible and they absolutely love it. The children come with their
therapists and Joe, who is a real sensitive soul, is absolutely brilliant with the
young ones. The dishes the children most enjoy cooking are popcorn chicken and
We tend not to cook Moroccan food with the young ones as children tend to be
fussy eaters – so we teach them how to make dishes like homemade fish fingers,
pasta, risotto and biscuits.
Truth be told, while our children love Zayane’s Junior
Chef’s School, overcoming an eating disorder is a tall order. But we are proud,
happy and grateful to have the opportunity to provide a small aspect of these
beautiful children’s treatment through the magic of fresh and healthy food. The
vast majority enjoy eating the dishes they cook at Zayane, some even bring their
newly-found skills home to cook for their families!
An idea we are toying with is doing a charity fundraiser with our Junior Chefs
preparing a delicious meal Watch this space!