How has being an immigrant impacted your life?
Being an immigrant has allowed me to be more open and respectful of other cultures, and to be more curious about the world around me. It’s opened the door to relationships with people from international diaspora communities. It’s also expanded my network of people with fascinating and diverse backgrounds. I believe that having the right people around me to support me on my journey has been so instrumental.
What attracts you most to the Washington D.C?
Washington D.C. has a nice charm to it. One of the best things about the city is that it’s a great place to raise a family. It also has a large Habesha community, which makes it feel like a home away from home.
When did you realise that you wanted to be a chef?
I didn’t choose the chef life. The chef life chose me. I was introduced at such a young age, as early as seven, to the restaurant industry. My parents owned two Ethiopian restaurants. So the smells, sounds and experiences of the kitchen were always familiar to me.
I don’t think being a chef was a conscious decision. It was just a natural next step in what I already knew so well. When I’d make food for people, whether it was at home or the restaurant, I loved seeing the joy people shared when breaking bread together. Recreating that joy around food has inspired my journey as a chef.
What was the main thought behind your restaurant Gorsha? How did you get started in setting up your business?
I wanted to share my love of Ethiopian food. I wanted to present it in such a way that would speak both to the people who’d never had it before and those who eat it every day. By creating a bowl-style menu, the food is accessible and familiar.
It didn’t take much convincing Union Market that there’s an audience interested in the menu. They were excited to have us as a vendor, because it offered a unique option for their patrons. We started as a pop-up, but given the great feedback we received, we made Union Market our permanent home.
Having a vision and the right people around have been instrumental.