Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
March 8th marks International Women’s Day – where people around the world are encouraged to think about the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of women.
Now, naturally celebrating women is something we do all year round, here at Twisted, but we certainly couldn’t pass off the opportunity to shout about some of the ladies bossing the food world right now.
From borek bakers to hot sauce makers, here’s our list of the very best independent, female founded food brands across the UK to keep firmly on your radar.
Ana Da Costa and Emily Yeoh – Two Hot Asians
Ana Da Costa and Emily Yeoh make up Two Hot Asians – a hot sauce brand with a lot of heart.
Started in the pandemic years, the business offers Chinese XO sauce inspired by Ana’s mother, Mama Da Costa, and a version of the Malaysian Sambal Emily’s dad, Papa Yeoh, used to make.
Not only are both sauces deeply sentimental, but they’ve developed a pretty cult following, too. The pair are adamant their condiments are “the only hot sauces you need in your life,” and they may have a point.
Spasia Dinkovski – Mystic Börek
You may well recognise Spasia Dinkovski from Twisted’s recent series of Sandwich Goals, where she obliterated much of the competition with her epic creations.
But if you don’t know about her brand, Mystic Börek, then you’re in for a treat.
Spasia’s parents were born in North Macedonia, one of börek’s many adopted homelands, so when lockdown hit she started cooking the filo delicacy to get back in touch with her heritage.
She puts her own tweaks on original recipes – which tend to feature cheese, meat and spinach – and the end result was this cracking business which is thriving today. It sees her deliver regular drops of börek around London, and hosting pop-ups all over the city, too.
Carol Deeney – Deeney’s
Carol Deeney founded Deeneys alongside her partner, Paddy, in 2012, and haggis toasties are their MO.
They started with a Hackney market stall and went on to open a permanent home in Leyton, and even a franchise in Tokyo, Japan.
Serving toasties like the Macbeth, made with haggis, cheddar and caramelised onion, and even a vegan haggis alternative, too, Carol has done what some might have thought unthinkable and made the meaty Scottish delicacy sexy.
Now, they even sell merch and hampers on their website. Make sure to pay them a visit if you’re in the area, too.
Suzie Bakos – The Little Sauce
Suzie Bakos is the founder of The Little Sauce, a supper club concept and hot sauce brand.
Her business started as a blog, discussing travel, style and food, and as her fan base grew, it has developed into the company we know today.
Her supper clubs tend to focus on Middle Eastern dishes, in tribute to her Iraqi heritage. As for her hot sauces? They’re truly cracking – although not for the faint hearted.
There’s a reason anything Suzie does sells out in minutes, and we encourage you to find out for yourselves.
Cop her next hot sauce drop and keep an eye out for her supper club antics here.
Helen Mebrate – Ethiopian Foodie
Meet Helen Mebrate, founder of Ethiopian Foodie, a brand in which she seeks to champion the flavours she has grown up with.
Helen cooks vegan Ethiopian food, and is a proud champion of how naturally plant-based the cuisine actually is.
As well as sharing mouthwatering pictures of injera and veggie stews on her socials, Helen also sells her recipes to fans via eBooks online.
She has a second business named Amaarech, too, in which people can buy Ethiopian spice blends and bundles.
Egle Loit – Darling It’s Pasta
Artisanal pasta chef, Egle Loit is smashing the game in London.
She fell in love with cooking the stuff after taking a job at a pasta restaurant in Hackney, and after two years of learning the craft her business was born.
Today, Egle runs pasta making masterclasses in the capital, in which she teaches visitors as many as eight pasta shapes and two sauces.
“Pasta is my way to express the essentialist in me,” Egle says on her website. What a lovely thought, ey?
You can sign up to one of Egle’s classes or shop her merch here.
Suki King – Hungry Buddhas
Suki King fronts Hungry Buddhas alongside her partner, Johnny.
With a Jamaican, Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean background, Suki became interested in mixing the flavours she had grown up eating with Johnny’s own British-born Chinese influences. The result was something quite phenomenal.
Today, the duo run an Afro-Asian food business, selling the likes of dumplings with oxtail or Jamaican brown stew and vegan callaloo spring rolls.
Suki’s business offers local delivery and pick-up from her base in Muswell Hill, London. However, you can also support Hungry Buddhas online via the DELLI app, where their food is available to order online and heat up at home.
Check out Suki’s website here.
Rahel Stephanie – Spoons
Spoons is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most exciting supper club concepts.
Rahel Stephanie specialises in cooking authentic Indonesian food, and found her passion after cooking for her mates and realising she was pretty darn good.
She learnt some of the dishes she cooks today from Indonesian housewives on YouTube, and – inspired by the lack of Indonesian food in London – went on to surprise and delight punters with the likes of Gulai Kol (charred cabbage in west Sumatran curry sauce) and Terong Sambal Ijo (fried aubergine in a spicy aromatic green chilli relish).
If you find yourself in London, make sure to look up if Rahel has a supper club on. You can keep an eye on her website here, and she’ll probably tell you via her socials (up top) too!
Oh, and check out the recipe she did for Twisted Green, here.
Helen Anadkat – Positive Bakes
Positive Bakes specialises in gluten free and vegan bakes, and was started by Helen Anadkat and her husband after realising their son had a dairy allergy.
We promise, the baked goods on offer are nothing to be sniffed at, though. In fact, we’d go as far to say they’re just as good as cakes with dairy in them.
Based in Leicester but shipping around the UK, Positive Bakes is a business to watch – it’s even been mentioned on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch.
You can order everything from Afternoon Tea treat boxes to Luxury Tart Selection boxes online (and brownies… lots of brownies) online, and some of their products were even stocked in Whole Foods Market last year.
Treat yourself to some Positive Bakes… you know you wanna. You can browse their website here.
Terri Mercieca – Happy Endings
Terri Mercieca is founder of Happy Endings, an independent ice cream brand with a difference.
Happy Endings happened by happy accident. Chocolatier and award-winning dessert chef, Terri had been supporting a friend at a market in Dalston, London, selling ice cream sandwiches (or not, as the case may be).
Arriving home with 500 ice creams, she managed to flog the rest to Japanese chain, Tonkotsu in 2014, and subsequently the dessert sandwiches finally got the love they deserved.
With fun flavours like ‘The Naughty One’ (miso salt caramel parfait between squidgy slices of chocolate Guinness cake) and Strawberry Shorty (strawberry cheesecake parfait, vanilla marshmallow and jam stuffed between shortbread) today, it’s quite clear why restaurants up and down the UK have gone on to snap the brand up.
You can find out the nearest restaurant selling Terri’s epic ice cream sandwiches here.