Ethiopian Chef Yohanis Gebreyesus cookbook titled Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa was recently selected on the longlist from The Art of Eating Prize.
Chef Yohanis shares more about his cookbook, culture and why Canadians should visit Ethiopia.
Tell us about more about your cookbook.
Chef Yohanis: The book is a compilation of over 100 recipes with roughly 80% traditional recipes and 20% of my own. The book is topped with several stories that address factors such as religion, climate, ingredients, politics, and how these dynamics shaped our cuisine; A cuisine that has been nurtured throughout our history, dating back to more than 3000 years.
Following the current global trend of wanting to eat healthy, this book offers a wide variety of vegetarian dishes. It provides the readers the possibility to experiment with exotic cuisine and celebrate life around food.
Ethiopia, Recipes and traditions from the horn of Africa were first published in the U.K. in 2018. Followed the U.S. Edition beginning 2019, and now we’ve just released the German edition last September.
Tell us about your training/experience.
Chef Yohanis: I studied Culinary Arts in France at the Paul Bocuse Institute. My trainings/experience internationally include:
L’Ouest – Brasserie Bocuse (Lyon, FRANCE), Le Miramar (Marseille, FRANCE), a seafood fine dining restaurant, specializing in Bouillabaisse, The St Regis, Motif (California, U.S.A.)The St Regis, Stonehill, a Michael Mina group Restaurant. Local Experience includes, Antica Restaurants and Farm, Signature menus for the Business class of Ethiopian Airlines (2016-2018),Signature menus for Hyatt Regency Addis-Ababa (Current).
What should Canadians know about Ethiopian food?
Chef Yohanis: There are several key points. We excel in the Art of spices and how to use it in recipes. We have a wide range of vegetarian/vegan meal options. Home of Niter Kibe, a unique scented butter that flavours most of our non-fasting dishes. Fascinated culinary know-hows developed through time and passed from one generation to the next. Its consumption (in a group with a shared platter) has tremendous social values. It nurtures community bonding, caring and respect among one another. To sum up, tasty, healthy, spicy and with a key social value.
Chef Yohanis tips for Canadians travelling to Ethiopia. What should they see?
So much actually. Considering Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the continent that was not colonized, many relics from our past still remain.
– Axum civilization, including:
o King Ezana Stone history written in Sabean, Greek and Geez
o Queen of Sheba Castle
o The obelisks and the underground city from our pagan history
– Gondar the castles of Fasiledes and his sons
– Lalibela and the 11 hidden churches carved from 1 stone (incredible upside down architectural technics
– Addis-Ababa, Emperor Miniliks and Emperor Haileselasie’s Castles
– The untouched city of Harar and remains of an international trading centre
Bahir Dar, The Nile Waterfall
– Arba Minch, Red grass, White grasslands and its exotic animals
– Omo Valley and the various tribes living within
– The Oasis of Afar, Assayta and the various fruits from low land
– The lowest inhabited place on earth, Ertale and its famous volcano and acid lakes
– The various lakes of Debrezeit and comfortable resorts
– Harar, the ritual of Hyena feeding and its origins
– The whistling Art in the making of Oat bread in Lalibela
– The making and use of mineral salt extracted from plants in Gambela
– Abish Wot in Harar
– Sweets with dominant Arabic influence, Dire-Dawa
– The Art of producing and making Berbere in the region of Mareko
Fire eating tribe in the region
– Mountain honey hunting with the Kuyegu, & Bena tribes (Omo Valley)
– Crocodile Hunting and feasting with the Gnagatom Tribe (Omo Valley)
– Edible tea (Helemur) Benishangul-Gumuz
– Bull-jumping ceremony, unique hairstyle with Hamer Tribe (Omo Valley)
– Fatness competition, ‘The Ethiopian Sumos, Body Tribe (Omo Valley)
– Body painting, Kara tribe (Omo Valley)
– Gambela, Art of scaring
– Hena tradition, and textile in Harar
So much more to see!
More exciting updates from Chef Yohanis
Chef Yohanis: I have started giving monthly cooking class at the Hyatt regency. These classes open for public and for corporations is a perfect activity for team building and discovering the basics of fusion cuisine between Ethiopia and the worlds.
I have also partnered with Seeds-Of-Africa and started developing nutritionally balanced meals for 200 children located in Adama Nazareth.
Photos from Chef Yohanis website https://chefyohanis.com/
Video below CNN Inside Africa