Founders

When fate threw Sarah Bentley and Joshana Lovage together in summer 2011 to compile a Big Lottery funding bid to launch the Made In Hackney - Local Food Kitchen, it was a meeting of two determined personalities with a passion for making healthy, sustainable, local food available to all.

Joshana

Joshana is the daughter of Meeta and Govinda Lovage who set up not-for-profit health food shop Food For All in 1976, the basement of which Made In Hackney resides. Jo has a deep connection to 3 Cazenove Rd having lived above the shop as a child and later managing the health food shop. In 2009 she joined an AMURT UK project in Kenya serving small villages with homeopathic medicines and training in homeopathic treatment. Today Jo works part time at Homerton Hospital Psychiatric Ward and is studying to become a Medical Doctor.

Sarah

Sarah was introduced to AMURT UK via her Permaculture teacher Rakesh Aji who is part of the Ananda Marga meditation group. Sarah joined forces with Joshana to develop the project and with help from the wider AMURT UK, Ananda Marga and Food For All family put together a successful Big Lottery Local Food bid (awarded June 2012) that kick-started Made In Hackney. The dedication of this extended family to see the project happen became evident when a week before the kitchen was due to open the builder left the job in disarray. With no more funds to pay a new builder friends, family, customers and AMURT UK members rallied to complete the work. Day after day, night after night they grouted, tiled, sanded, and painted and in doing so produced the beautiful community kitchen Made In Hackney is today.

Founders | Sarah & Joshana

The Team

Sarah Bentley

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Sarah Bentley

Founder & Project Director

In 2009 former reggae journalist and university lecturer Sarah Bentley had a conscious awakening. Questioning the impact her writing was having on the issues she cared about she embarked on a period of learning. She read books on the global food system; watched documentaries about the banking crisis; helped build cob houses in eco communities; learnt to grow food; became a passionate advocate of organic; started writing for The Ecologist; took multiple Permaculture courses; did an apprenticeship at 38 Degrees; took part in grassroots environmental activism (well, tagged along with 'real' activists to blockade an oil rig for the day); became a growing apprentice at Growing Communities and had a life changing conversation with Indian activist Vandana Shiva.

These experiences landed Sarah at the heart of London's thriving organic, local food scene - a movement seemingly about growing your own but Sarah believes is, as the permaculture saying goes, 'A revolution disguised as gardening.' "By working on re-localising food systems you're having a positive impact on a huge range of issues - food poverty, inequality, climate change, reducing corporate control of our food, health and wellbeing - it's a hugely inspiring and rewarding area to work in."


Veryan Wilkie-Jones

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Veryan Wilkie-Jones

Project Director - Programmes

Veryan started her career as a production manager in magazine publishing, before discovering a passion for food, all things community and, more recently, healthy eating. In her previous role, she headed up a community project at Sutton Community Farm to encourage healthy eating, involving cook clubs, pop-up stalls and banquets. Veryan is a proud former member of the Crystal Palace Food Market team, where she coordinated the kids activities for this fantastic Transition Town project.

Veryan enjoys cooking for friends and family, often trying out new recipes and ideas. She had a stint a few years ago working as an artisan cake baker, trading at local farmers markets, together with her husband who bakes sourdough bread.

Veryan loves what Made In Hackney is all about, and is delighted to be part of an amazing team here!



Khin Tye

Khin Tye

Volunteer Manager

Khin has finally found a happy melding in Made in Hackney of her passion for food, well-being and making a positive difference in healthy communities and a healthy planet. Her background is in Corporate Social Responsibility and volunteer management in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. She is passionate about developing well-being and is a certified member of the British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches (BAMBA). Khin has worked in IT consulting and management consulting in America, and product marketing in Asia-Pacific. Khin’s underlying philosophy is evolutionary development of people, communities, and planet where we are all interconnected as One.


Jayshree Bhakta

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Jayshree Bhakta

Finance Director

After graduating in Accounting and Finance in 1992 in Manchester, Jayshree completed her professional accountancy (ACMA) in London. Initial work included implementing the first digital accounting system for a bus manufacturers in Wigan, then onto London and gained financial analysis and modeling experience in start ups and projects in various sectors including events, retail, online retail, interactive television, media and the Government Department of Health.

In 2006 Jayshree stepped off the working wagon for motherhood and has never looked back (maybe odd peek over the shoulder now and again).

Motherhood got Jayshree interested in cooking at home and the use of good ingredients. Jayshree is a daughter of a cook and comes from a family of farmers in India so influence of food was always there. She likes the fact Made In Hackney is a new project about vegetarian food and regards Made In Hackney as a great re-introduction into the world of work.




Fran Humber

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Fran Humber

Development Manager

Fran has always had a passion for the environment and started her career in tropical marine conservation. She previously worked as Conservation Director for Blue Ventures Conservation working with fishing communities, in countries like Madagascar, supporting them to secure their livelihoods for the future. It was this passion for both people and the environment, and the desire to work more closely with local communities in London that made Made in Hackney the ideal organisation. She also has an unhealthy love of preparing budgets and financial reports which is perfect for this role. Outside of work Fran would most like to be whale watching but is more likely to be building her green credentials by attempting to garden, grow vegetables or cooking new recipes passed on from MIH!


Dilupa Nanayakkara

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Dilupa Nanayakkara

Enterprise Manager

Despite having an Agricultural Economics degree, Dilupa started her career in the world of media and advertising. She's still not quite sure how that happened. After working for over a decade in sales strategy for media owners in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, she decided to go freelance in 2014. Using her marketing and sales skills in tech start-ups, education, property development and even gym & spa management, Dilupa finally made the breakthrough into the charity sector with Made In Hackney. She has a passion for cooking and baking, and is always willing to learn something new. Which led her to Made in Hackney and their classes on Fermentation and how a healthy gut can lead to a healthy body and mind. Dilupa was really looking to work with an organisation that can do good, and puts that into practice every day.



Nynke Brett

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Nynke Brett

Operations Manager

Nynke is a long time Hackney resident and serial networker. Passionate about supporting local community causes with Made in Hackney she found an enterprise that met all her expectations - promoting healthy eating, supporting urban food growers and working in her community. Previously Nynke worked for Greenpeace on a campaign tackling the illegal destruction of rainforests for conversion to cattle grazing and soya plantations, which highlighted the necessity to return to a more localised and sustainable food system.

Nynke is a certified career coach and has worked for the charity UnLtd, where she set up a business mentoring programme to support social enterprises like Food Cycle and Growing Communities. She also managed the North London Master Gardener programme, an initiative of charity Garden Organic, that connects volunteer urban food growers with community health and wellbeing projects, to encourage people to 'grow their own', a cause that has many synergies with Made in Hackney.


Andi Gaywood

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Andi Gaywood

Venue Manager

After surviving an IT career in global business and corporate banking I felt a need for a fresh perspective. Having been a vegan for over 25 years and initiator of vegan catering projects it was time to follow my gut, literally. I studied for a degree in Human Nutrition and although I left university with a good degree my health deteriorated and I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

My career path now took a different course. In 2015 I started doing voluntary work for MIH working in the kitchen and helping with various projects such as Single Homeless People's project, people with visual impairments and local community centers. This allowed me to use some of my degree knowledge to help people to understand local, seasonal, affordable cooking. My aims in life are to use my knowledge and skills to educate people about food and well being to enable people to take control of their health.




Hannah Walker

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Hannah Walker

Cookery Teacher

Hannah is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping people to optimise both their health and happiness though good food. Currently specialising as a paediatric dietitian, she has always loved working with children and families and has been involved helping to lead several events for youngsters for Made in Hackney. After volunteering for over 2 years has now also started to lead community classes. Her favourite message is ‘eat the rainbow’ and she is also a big advocate for zero waste cooking. She is always keeping herself busy and in her spare time she also leads foraging and wild food cookery courses, where she tries to get people as excited as her about nettles and dandelions! She also has a background of being a semi-professional long distance runner, although now spends nearly as much time pursuing her other hobby of swing dancing!


Rohini Bajekal

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Rohini Bajekal

Cookery Teacher

A keen recipe developer, Rohini is passionate about making healthy plant-based meals that are big on flavour. Having grown up in London, she then spent several years working for food startups in Mumbai and Singapore, which spurred her on to go back to university and study nutrition. While studying for her Master's degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences, she started volunteering regularly at a local allotment in West Yorkshire.

Outside her own practice, Rohini is an Advisory Board Member and Nutritionist for Plant-Based Health Professionals UK. This is a not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to the promotion of a whole foods plant-based diet for optimal health and wellbeing. She also holds a Lifestyle Medicine Diploma from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, realising the importance of stress management, sleep and community alongside a healthy diet. Rohini is Brand Manager for Women for Women’s Health UK, a voluntary service set up to empower women of all ages to make lifestyle choices that will help improve their own health as well as that of their families. Rohini loves sharing the benefits of eating more plants and working with others to create delicious food.



Mark Breen

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Mark Breen

Cookery Teacher

Mark loves showing people how to cook what is at its best at any given time. His passion is teaching people to cook with skill and enjoyment to create beautiful and tasty dishes that are good for our taste-buds, bodies and soul. Mark is a classically trained chef who believes that learning to cook together can bring communities together as well as improve people’s health and the environment. When Mark isn’t with us or working as a private chef, he’s usually in the kitchen at home tinkering with ferments and pickles.


Melissa Saint Hill

Melissa Saint Hill

Cookery Teacher

Melissa started as a volunteer for Made in Hackney, soon to be discovered as a bit of a foodie with a robust scientific background, which turned into becoming a masterclass teacher and board member.

Forever a lover of cooking and more recently baking, Melissa could always be found inspiring others from as early as school days where requests would come in for her to make lunches for friends, through to university where she’d demonstrate how to cook quick, easy, cheap and healthy meals which would even get parents visiting halls in first year to learn ideas!

The main thing for Melissa is creating food that is nutritious, full of flavour, visually appealing and generally very healthy. She thrives off getting people to really think about their flavours and ingredients; loving the way people’s faces light up from relatively simple concepts that are easily creatable at home with everyday ingredients.

Joining Made in Hackney has been one of the most rewarding and grounding things to date for her, where she thoroughly enjoys bringing people together to learn new things both from a pure food and scientific stance.

Melissa works a project manager on global clinical trials and as a registered nutritionist, which includes working as a food consultant for businesses to analyse menus and develop recipes, paired with food styling and photography.




Woin Tegegn

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Woin Tegegn

Cookery Teacher

Woin is a chef with a specialism in authentic Ethiopian cuisine. Always a passionate cook, she left a career in IT to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time chef. She travelled extensively around Ethiopia to research the authentic recipes and ingredients of different regions before coming home and launching her catering company Ethiopic Kitchen and taking her sumptuous buffet style feasts to clients such as Amnesty International. She teaches cookery at Migrateful and is a community class teacher and masterclass teacher at Made In Hackney. She is also a very busy Mum of three.


Amy Hiller

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Amy Hiller

Social Media Adviser, Artist, Chef & Cover Staff

Amy is Made In Hackney’s multi-talented in house chef, artist, social media adviser and cover staff. She is particularly fond and good at working at pensioners events, making mince pies and producing kale crowns for social media campaigns. Amy is a former music teacher and professional cake maker and continues to be a world traveller and communications expert specialising in social media and content creation for charities and inspiring causes around the globe.



Sharon Gardner

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Sharon Gardner

Cookery Teacher

As well as being a much loved community cookery teacher Sharon is a naturopath, nutritionist and pilates instructor. She loves teaching classes for MIH as she gets to share her passion for all things plant-based with the wider community and meet incredible people. Her favourite part is, of course, “Eating all the goodies at the end of each lesson.”


Zoe Marks

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Zoe Marks

Cookery Teacher

Zoe is a community class teacher at Made In Hackney where she likes to cook hearty, unpretentious and flavoursome food. She says working for Made In Hackney is the most rewarding job she has ever done. “I love the therapeutic and social aspects of cooking and the magic that happens when you bring different people together in the kitchen.” When she’s not leading one of our courses you can find her cooking at the Bonnington café - where she began her career as a chef 8 years ago.




Cary Southwell

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Cary Southwell

Teaching Assistant & Volunteer

Cary is one of Made In Hackney’s uber volunteers – starting his MIH journey as a class participant and then getting more and more involved as a volunteer host, assistant chef and assistant teacher. He signed up to our classes initially after being treated for cancer and wanted to overhaul his lifestyle. Today he is now a passionate chef, juicer and kombucha maker – hoping to turn this into a career. Here he represents over 75 volunteers whom without MIH would not be able to do the awesome work it does.


Fiona McAllister

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Fiona McAllister

Cookery Teacher

With a background in community engagement and environmental education work, Fi went on to work with Growing Communities - a community-led organisation based in Hackney working to create positive alternatives to the current damaging food system.  Fi helps to run the box scheme at Growing Communities and also coordinates education projects teaching young people and their families about where food comes from.  Cooking was an obvious off shoot from Fi's work and passion around food and the environment, and together with Ximena - also at Made in Hackney - and her partner Duncan, she set up the Hackney Growers' Kitchen.  They run a weekly cake stall at Stoke Newington Farmers' Market and take on small catering jobs for community and environmental events.  She loves to cook (and eat!) and loves to work with people...so as a result is particularly passionate about what food can do in terms of bringing people together!



Tessa Christian

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Tessa Christian

Cookery Teacher

Two of my passions in life are food and comedy. I like to combine both in my sessions. My style of teaching is practical and fun. I've been cooking since the mid-70's which makes me quite old, but not as old as Mary Berry. My interest in growing vegetables happened quite by chance back in 2009, when I was coerced into being a volunteer at Spitalfields City Farm. I only intended on staying the minimum. To date, I'm still there and happily so, promoting wholesome and naturally grown food.


Steve Wilson

Steve Wilson

Cookery Teacher

Steve has been passionate about food since discovering an invisible recipe book at the age of 5. He has worked with food all of his adult life, honing his skills as a Chef in France, Greece and England. He studied the Sociology of Food at Bristol University then dedicated himself to launching exciting food start-ups. First, Dalston’s, a natural soft drinks company famous for its Dalston Cola. Then The People's Kitchen, a community food surplus kitchen project, and then the Russet, a community cafe and events space. His latest venture is Make Kit, a social recipe kit enterprise. He has worked for Made In Hackney as a teacher since 2016 and loves sharing and inspiring others with his passion and knowledge of food.




Bruna Oliveira

Bruna Oliveira

Cookery Teacher

After struggling with health issues Bruna found a nutritional therapist that showed her how to transform her life by eating the right food. This experience inspired Bruna to go back to college where she studied Naturopathic Nutrition and since 2008 she's dedicated her life to showing people how to become healthier by eating the most amazing and tasty food that not only fills the body with nutrients but nourishes the soul. When she first heard about MIH and its values she felt an instant connection and today she is very proud to be part of it’s amazing team.


Åsa Linéa Simonsson

Åsa Linéa Simonsson

Cookery Teacher

Asa has over 20 years' experience in the medical and healthcare industries and is passionate about inspiring people to improve their health through nutrition. She started her career as a nurse around twenty-five years ago in Sweden, moving to England in her twenties to start a business manufacturing and selling natural organic health and beauty products. She trained as a Nutritional Therapist and a Naturopath with the London College of Naturopathic Medicine (CNM), following three years of study and clinical practice. Asa now runs Linéa Nutrition and is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapies (BANT). She is one of MIH’s fermentation specialists and is the proud author of, 'Fermentation: How to make your own sauerkraut, kimchi, brine pickles, kefir, kombucha, vegan dairy, and more.'



Ekowa Booth

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Ekowa Booth

Cookery Teacher

Ekowa was raised on a vegetarian diet in a Rastafarian family where he regularly cooked as a youngster for the entire family when he returned from school.  His main influences include the eclectic food of Trinidad and Tobago which includes Asian and African influences.

For the last five years he has been a vegan and he has used these influences to guide his cuisine.  He loves to experiment with different ingredients and cooks in a vegan style that combine produce and promote energy and wellbeing. As a father of two, he enjoys creating dishes that his children can both enjoy and be thoroughly nourished by. 

On his journey to becoming a yoga instructor, Ekowa discovered the link between yoga and food and the benefits that the right combinations can have on the body such as promoting consciousness and wellbeing.

He often approaches his kitchen as if it is a lab and sees food as a science. Instead of using too many added seasonings, Ekowa uses recipes that enhance the natural taste of his chosen produce to balance each other. His use of minerals in his cooking means that each dish has added nutritional value and he masks the taste of some of the minerals with clever natural seasoning options such as ginger and garlic. He enjoys using a combination of tastes and textures that make every eating experience a memorable one.  

His passion for vegan food, yoga and wellbeing meant a natural gravitation towards the Made In Hackney project and when he was asked to collaborate, did so without hesitation.


Sareta Puri

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Sareta Puri

Cookery Teacher

Growing up with an Indian chef as a father gave Sareta a passion for food and cooking from an early age. She specialises in food from the Indian subcontinent and enjoys using bold flavours that challenge people’s perceptions of plant-based food.

Sareta is driven by creating equality and positive change, and spent over a decade pursuing both of these through her work in the education and youth sectors, before embarking on a freelance career focussed on her core values of veganism and sustainability.

She moved into food professionally through running supper clubs, private catering, working in street food and teaching cooking – which is where she found Made in Hackney, an organisation that fully aligns with her key values. Whenever possible, in her work Sareta aims to highlight the links between food, culture, connectivity and community.

When she is not teaching or cooking Sareta provides business development support to small vegan businesses.




Shashi Ioannides

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Shashi Ioannides

Cookery Teacher

After her son was diagnosed with Autism in 2008, Shashi began her journey into holistic and alternative health to help her son and her whole family. This sparked an interest in self-sufficiency, ethical living, permaculture, activism that ultimately then led her to create her own skincare and homecare business which became a very successful international vegan brand, which she ran for over 10 years.

She is also a trained soap-maker, skincare herbalist, and cosmetic formulator. Shashi is now a serial ethical vegan entrepreneur, social media manager and content creator for BME, Refugee & Migrant causes and various charities. She is passionate about creating space and platforms for marginalised communities and educating people to take the power back into their own hands.