Samafels started life as Garbanzos in 2015 when for a bit of fun and as a distraction to a high pressure social care job I started selling vegetarian and vegan food at Bexhill Farmers Market.
Most of our products are naturally gluten free* and soon after setting up I received a request for gluten free samosas. I was struggling to make a decent gluten free pastry and wondered if the crunch of a Falafel mix would make a better alternative to the crunch of traditional wheat based Samosa pastry. It did and the Samafel was born (a cross between a samosa and a falafel) and soon became our most popular product.
In September 2016 Naomi came on board and plans were well underway to open a whole food shop and vegetarian deli.
The doors opened in January 2017 but sadly we didn’t enjoy running the shop side of the business and closed soon after, quickly going back to just being a market stall and wholesaler.
During this time we became aware that the name Garbanzos was already being used by a Falafel bar in London so we decided to name the business Samafels. Also as most of our product range was already naturally vegan and we were often getting requests for specialist vegan products we decided to make our entire range plant based. In March 2018 we became a limited company and soon after moved to our current premises in Blackboys East Sussex.
My Story – Ruth
Growing up in a foodie family I started cooking at a very young age and by the time I was 11 could quite happily produce a family meal from scratch using fresh ingredients. Like most people in the UK I was raised on a meat based diet and in my family the meat was usually served still in the shape of the animal it came from, my mum even served up a boars head for Christmas dinner one year. I always knew I was eating an animal and this seemed perfectly normal and natural.
When I was 16 two of my friends became vegan, to begin with I thought they were bonkers but the more I read the more persuaded I became that eating less meat and more plants would make a healthier, happier me, community and world. And so began my ensuing interest in plant based cooking.
As a teenager my mum ran a catering company from home and I’d often help her out at evenings and weekends, but it was when I got a job as a kitchen assistant in a local restaurant that I really found a passion for professional kitchen life. I loved watching the way the chefs worked together and the banter in the kitchen.
I continued to work part time in restaurants and bars whilst studying, but the idea that I could cook for a living didn’t occur to me til my early 20’s when I undertook an apprenticeship at The Landmark, a beautiful 5 star hotel in Marylebone. I met some amazing chefs there who continue to inspire me and whose recipes still feature on my menus today.
Over the next few years I worked in kitchens across the country from Butlins in Bognor Regis to the National Convention Centre in Birmingham getting as much experience as I could, finally settling in Brighton where I was able to specialise in vegetarian and vegan cooking.
When my son came along I decided the long unsociable hours of catering were no longer for me. I hung up my apron and went back to school to follow my other passion for the social sciences, embarking on a new career in local government. 12 years later for a bit of fun and to make a bit of extra cash I applied for a stall at Bexhill Farmers Market rekindling my love for cooking and so the Samafels story began.