Chef Yohanis: Putting Ethiopian Food on the Culinary Map

5 Jul 2019

On Saturday 29th June, the Embassy hosted an exclusive event celebrating Ethiopian food and culture with renowned Ethiopian chef, Yohanis Gebreyesus Hailemariam, in the presence of Ethiopian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Fesseha Shawel Gebre, and around eighty guests.

The event included a signing of Chef Yohanis’ stunning debut cookbook, Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa, and food tastings of recipes from the book.

Welcoming guests, Ambassador Fesseha applauded Chef Yohanis for beautifully showcasing Ethiopia’s unique food in his debut book, and encouraged guests to bring a taste of Ethiopia to their homes by trying the recipes.

Chef Yohanis then read an excerpt from the book and invited guests to sample some of the food that he had prepared earlier, which included the star of the show, and Chef Yohanis’ favourite – Beg Enfele, a festive dipped leg of lamb simmered in a spicy sauce and then hoisted out of the pot.

The event was also an excuse to showcase Ethiopian brands and products such as Lovegrass Ethiopia, an Ethiopian Teff brand based in London and Addis Ababa; Abyssinia Kitchen, a Leeds-based Ethiopian restaurant that also sells Ethiopian cooking sauces; Gojo Tej– the finest Ethiopian traditional honey wine made in Europe; Habesha and Walia beer, Castel Winery’s Rift Valley Wineand Tomocacoffee. A1 Juices, an African juice brand which celebrates the continent’s diverse produce, cultures and tastes, was also present.

Chef Yohanis explains how Beg Enfele is made

Preceding the event, Chef Yohanis attended the Guild of Food Writers Awards on 27th June – an event which celebrates the best of British food writing and broadcasting – where his cookbook was up for the International or Regional Cookbook Award. Chef Yohanis was accompanied by Ambassador Fesseha and the Head of Business Diplomacy, Ms Nardos Ayalew.

The awards ceremony is organised by the Guild of Food Writers, the UK’s professional association of food writers and broadcasters, and is the longest-established and largest of its kind, reflecting the Guild’s commitment to encouraging new and established food writers.

In Chef Yohanis’ category, “Copenhagen Food: Stories, traditions and recipes” by Trine Hahnemann won.

Commenting on Yohanis’ book, the Judges said:

[This is] a daring and original book exploring one of Africa’s great cuisines. Ethiopia has 3,000 years of culinary legacy, and its recipes (many vegetarian, many using unusual spices) make fascinating reading. It is a complex cuisine that deserves wider exposure, and this book is a pioneer in its field.

Launched in October 2018, Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa, takes the reader on a journey through all the essential dishes of Ethiopia, along the way telling wondrous stories.

There are recipes for all types of diets, including vegans and vegetarians – From Ethiopia’s most famous dish Doro Wat, chicken slowly stewed with berbere spice; to Yeassa Alicha, curried fish stew; and Siga Tibs, flash-fried beef cubes.

The cookbook also boasts a wealth of vegetarian dishes such as Gomen, minced collard greens with ginger and garlic; Azifa, green lentil salad; and the most popular, Shiro Wat, Spicy Chickpea Flour Stew. The book then explains the intricacies and variations of Injera, the foundational sourdough flatbread made from the teff grain (which is gluten-free and more nutritious than wheat).

Complete with photography, by Peter Cassidy, of the country’s stunning landscapes and vibrant artisans, this volume demonstrates why Ethiopian food should be considered as one of the world’s greatest, most singular and most enchanting cuisines.

For full event coverage and an exclusive interview with Chef Yohanis, please watch the video below.

Video: Exclusive Interview with Chef Yohanis

Chef Yohanis: Putting Ethiopian Food on the Map

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