SPOTLIGHT: Déjà Vu interviews ... Maize Blaze
Ask anyone what kind of food springs to mind when thinking of Colombia and the answer is usually empanadas … or nothing at all. Which is precisely the reason why Ruth from Maize Blaze got started on bringing authentic Colombian flavours to the London street food scene since 2014.
If you’ve ever braved the craziness that is Camden Market and ventured to the foodie mecca that is KERB Camden, you’ll find Maize Blaze with their brightly coloured signage and wafts of great smells. It’s a feat in itself to stand out from the crowd in a market as heavily populated as KERB Camden but Ruth and her team manage to do it with friendliness and a lot of knowledge about their food.
So what’s the story behind Maize Blaze?
Ruth has, in a way, “come back” to food as she puts it. After leaving school, working in kitchens and qualifying as a pastry chef, she carried on in the culinary world for four years but then decided to go back to university. You may not expect the next detail but Ruth actually went to study biochemistry and got started with a grand ol’ job in the city before realising that food was really where it’s at. Ruth describes Colombian food as quite traditional and hopes that Maize Blaze is helping to bridge the gap that many Londoners have with the culture.
Being from a Colombian family herself, Ruth has always experienced the wonderful flavours of her culture but feels as if it can sometimes be quite an intimidating cuisine to get your hand round. She shouts out Elephant & Castle and Seven Sisters as being great locations in the capital for some great Colombian influences but emphasises how scary it can sometimes appear to first timers of the cuisine.
Starting off cooking for Maize Blaze in her dad’s kitchen, Ruth headed up the business all by herself and taste tested a lot of the dishes on awaiting hungry friends and family in order to finesse the menu offerings. Now, Ruth is still at the helm of her business and has recently launched a Colombian brunch in Bristol which is another base for Ruth and with it going so well so quickly, Ruth hopes Maize Blaze can become established in Bristol as well as London.
Ruth’s menu is concise and packed full of amazing flavours with dishes such as Carne Asado and the infamous Marching Box. Ruth herself would recommend nabbing a Marching Box if you’re a first timer to the stall and from personal experience, it really is full of some great stuff. Think sweet fried plantain, smoked paprika chorizo and garlic rice to name a few additions but it really is enough to “keep you marching all day”.
Read below for more from a couple of extra bits from our interview:
If you could describe Maize Blaze in 3 words, what would they be?
Healthy, tropical, modern.
How did you come up with the name ‘Maize Blaze’?
I thought it sounded nice! It rhymes but it sounds cool and fiery … kind of like chillies? I actually started as a pop-up in Camden doing empanadas and corn pasties which is where the word ‘maize’ comes from too.
What’s the best thing about being a street food vendor?
You have a lot of autonomy in what you do! You can do what you want, manage your own hours and pick/choose when you do things, what you do but actually, I’m thinking about it more and I love having a van. Yeah, having a van is so cool because it’s like having a cupboard with you wherever you go.
What’s been your most memorable experience so far as a street food vendor?
It’s more of catering experience actually - we did a wedding last year in Islington for some regular customers and the clients themselves made it memorable. It was a really nice experience working with a client so closely and because they had a lot of allergies, we had to change a lot of the recipes for them. It was great though because it gave me the chance to do different things with the menu.
Team Déjà Vu would love to say a great big thank you to Ruth for taking the time out of running Maize Blaze to have a chat with us! Follow the Colombian street food journey over on their Instagram and Twitter and be sure to continue the conversation using #dejavuloyalty & #dejavuspotlight.