Above: The Injera (is a yeast-risen flatbread with a unique slightly spongy texture, traditionally made out of teff flour, is a national dish in Ethopia and Eritrea.) Below: Plantains and Ginger: Ginger Elixir, Plantains, Honey wine ice Cream
Chef Hiyaw Gebrayohannes doesn’t know if it was a conscious thing to start selling the food he grew up with, but he thinks it was more instinct, probably. The moment of clarity was sitting in his parents restaurant in Michigan and seeing his dad cooking, and his mom trying to convince him to stay in Michigan and run the business and him arguing with them and saying they should “just package the food and sell it like that”, and when he went home that night, he couldn’t get the idea out of his mind. Now Hiyaw runs Taste of Ethopia, which currently has 7 cuisines to go, and if you go to the hot bar at Wholefoods in the North-East region you can pick his food straight up and dine on it at home.
This last week, March 27, Hiyaw cooked at City Grit. City Grit is the brain child of chef, Sarah Simmons and her business partner Jeremie Kittredge, and it’s housed in a phenomenal space—an old school house In Nolita, that’s an antique store by day, and a restaurant by night (guests have been known to purchase the furniture, and lighting fixtures between entree and main). The place features supper-club style dinners, and a guest-chef series of well-known and emerging chefs. This means that the menu gets to change frequently, and organically, and in the larger picture, it gives an opportunity for emerging chef’s to be able to showcase their (maybe, unseen) culinary work.
Photographer Matthew Cylinder went along and photographed Hiyaw a few hours before the event…
Taste of Ethiopia has currently 7 cuisines you can pick up in New York and eat at home: Misir (spicy red lentils), Kik (Yellow Split Peas), Gomen (Collard Greens), Yatikilt (cabbage and Carrots) Injera (Ethiopian Flat Bread), Dora Wet (Spicy Chicken) and Loze Wet (Peanut Chicken) at Wholefoods, Fairway, Park Slope Food Coop, Westerly market, Union Market Brooklyn, Foragers City Grocer, Brooklyn Fare, and more. And how do they taste? The food is restaurant grade, and it has such a depth of flavor, it’s filling and also reasonably priced. I like to pick up the Misir (really spicy! red lentils), the Kik (Yellow Split Peas) and the Gomen (Collard Greens) and mix them together. Of course Ethiopian food gets obvious comparisons to Indian food because of the similar heat and spices, but this feels a less fatty, but still spicy version of an Indian take-away, and 5 out of the 7 options are vegan! I don’t know of any other dishes of this calibre that you can pick up, sup on for a couple of days, and still feel really good about what you’re eating. I even froze some leftovers and they re-heated up just fine.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MATTHEW CYLINDER