From one girl boss to another meet Maria and Rhiannon aka Mam Sham – the immersive dining duo that combine lols with good grub to create the ultimate funny dining experience. Described by ELLE as the ‘babes of banqueting’, Maria and Rhiannon have torn up the restaurant rulebook with their supper club and comedy combination. The concept is simple: 3-courses of delicious food and comedy to compliment the food, what’s not to love?! I recently caught up with the girls to hear more about future plans for Mam Sham and the highs and lows of starting a business from scratch. Read on to find out more…
You’ve been described as the ‘babes of banqueting’ with events that combine food with lols, what inspired you to start Mam Sham?
We wanted to create something that combined our two favourite things; laughing and eating, that would also have an emphasis on quality and inclusivity. We’ve known each other since school and a large part of our friendship has been coming up with weird and wild ideas, this is the one that stuck, fast forward we saw a comedian talking about how women should tackle business with the audacity of a straight white man, here we are!
Where did the name come from?
We’re basically two gals or ‘mams’, having a bit of a laugh, or a shambles…Mam Sham.
You work with a wide range of different comedians and foodies, how do you decide who you’d like to work with next?
A lot of it is word of mouth, or eating at their restaurant or seeing their shows. We tend to keep a female focus when collaborating, but it’s not exactly something we have to seek out, there is just heaps of talented females.
Starting a business from scratch and putting on big events must take a LOT of hard work, what have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome and learn from them?
We’re each others support network and personal cheerleader. It is hard work but it’s what we’ve chosen to do, it’s honestly such an honour to get to work with so many incredible people that it doesn’t ever feel like a chore. The best piece of advice we can give is to believe in your product, everyone wants to be a critic, so seek out who’s voice you respect and take it from there. Also there will always be last minute changes, we’ve had comedians cancel 24 hours before shows and there’s always the last minute vegan who didn’t mention it on their ticket. Being prepared for any situation but also knowing that it’s not brain surgery and nothing can really go THAT wrong…
What’s been the most rewarding thing about starting your own business?
The response has been incredible, meeting incredible people and obviously the end product of seeing people have more fun eating, drinking and laughing than they’ve had in a long time.
From one girl boss to another, what advice would you give you other women wanting to start their own business?
Talk. Don’t just base success from what you see on social media, you’ll see that everyone is probably working three jobs and half of us still live with our parents too, the hustle is hard but totally tangible.
Besides being your own bosses, what’s your favourite thing about running Mam Sham?
The creativity, from the props to the menu development to the set design. Oh and obviously trying the food.
Where would you like to see Mam Sham in 5 years time?
Penthouse suite, yachts, red carpets…the usual! On a side note; being acknowledged for our hard work, being able to work on social or community led projects and of course having an empire that pays the bills but continues to support diversity and inclusivity within food and comedy.
Now for some down time… What do you enjoy doing to relax after a stressful day
Ideally, drinking a delicious wine with a beautiful view, having some beautiful shellfish and dancing till silly o clock. Alternatively a Dairylea dunker in front of Eastenders will do.
Talk me through your day in food: What is your favourite meal?
When we work from home it is usually a case of ‘fridge bingo’, usually it’s delicious and only sometimes is it a little bit off. Any excuse to have a lunch meeting is perfect. We had a feast at On The Bab recently which was delish. One of our top places for dinner at the moment is Sichuan Folk, it’s hella spicy.
Where are your favourite places to eat out and why?
The above mentioned. Xian Impressions, Berber & Q, Kiln, Western’s Laundry, Smoking Goat, Bao, Mangal 1, Brat, Ramiro (if you’re in Lisbon) and of course a big shout out to Arthur’s Cafe (RIP).
If I came over for dinner, what sort of food would you serve?
If it was you babes, we’d make a sushi platter on our naked bodies. Failing that, probably to start some pickles, maybe little plates of curries, we make a mean cashew nut + beetroot curry. For mains we’re going el classico, Rhiannon makes the stinkiest 100 garlic chicken, which is as delicious as it is potent, of course with all the trimmings. For dessert it’s got to be a hefty cheese board and a deep fried mars bar to wash it all down.
Lastly, are there any particular foods or ingredients you couldn’t live without?
Garlic – raw, roasted, fried. Chilli and pickles.