An Ethiopian Repast

By John Tulloh

Neena and her new team on the FCA committee are to be commended for trying to restore purpose of fellowship to the Association. A welcome new idea was for members to gather to sample different kinds of multi-cultural hospitality in Sydney.

So one chilly Friday night in September about 35 of us came together to have what for most of us was our first taste of Ethiopian food. It was at a new pop-up-type cafe called A Taste of Ethiopia in the grounds of Fox Studios, Entertainment Quarter.

The owner and chef is an immigrant who had planned to join friends in exile in North America. He decided to spend five days in Australia on the way and is still here 20 years later. His name is Haile Kiros Gebregziabher and he is an impressive person. (Haile has a connotation with spiritual power and Kiros means the cross).

He worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross during the tyrannical years of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia. As the ICRC also took an interest in the plight of dissidents, he knew he had no future in his country.

In 1988, he fled to neighbouring Sudan, moving only under the cover of darkness because of marauding fighter jets by day. He worked for the ICRC in Khartoum until 1995 when he emigrated. His story is one too typical of newcomers to Australia and you cannot help but admire the way they tackle and overcome adversity.

At his bistro, he produced a buffet of eight dishes of lamb, chicken, vegetables, lentils and sauces, each with different spices. It was like a very tasty amalgam of mild curries. Many of us lined up for a second helping.

Once he had finished in the kitchen, he spoke to FCA members about his life. He said Ethiopian men would be flabbergasted to learn he cooked for a living. They regard that as women’s work, he said. ‘Men are expected to live like kings’, he laughed.

You will find his bistro next to the entrance to Cinema Paris [Hoyts] in the Entertainment Quarter complex. It is open on Friday and Saturday evenings and from 12 noon on Sunday until 9pm. You will also find him at the Fox Studio farmers’ markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Bondi Junction markets on Friday morning and the Orange Grove markets at Lilyfield.

You will not be disappointed.

There was talk of the next venture being to a fondue restaurant in October. Watch the FCA website for details.

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