The City Grit Dinner of Hiyaw Gebreyohannes

Hiyaw_©McylinderTim Tim Salad: Heirloom Tomatoes, Kale, Crispy Injera, Roasted Peppers, Jalapeño aioli with Avocado Compote

Hiyawportrait_©MCylinderHiyaw Gebreyohannes who cooked his style of Ethiopian food at City Grit on March 27.

HiyawTomatoes_©MCylinder

hiyawtarter_©MCylinderKitfo: Steak Tartar, Fresh Cottage Cheese, Collard Greens

Hiyawfoiegras_©MCylinder
Preparing the Foie Gras
Hiwayprocess_©MCylinder Hiyaw Gebreyohannes and his team in the kitchens at City Grit

Hiyawbread_©MCylinderAbove: 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

Hiyawdessert_©MCylinder

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.

Hiyaw wanted to make all the dishes to have the ability to be served with the Injera. (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.) And that worked. The menu was inspired from his travels within Africa and his childhood dinners. He wanted to create something that was authentic to the flavors but yet have a beautiful presentation.

Photographer Matthew Cylinder went along and photographed Hiyaw a few hours before the event…

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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.

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To check out more about Chef and Owner Hiyaw Gebreyohannes Taste of Ethiopia, click here.
To learn about City Gritclick here.
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PHOTOGRAPHED BY MATTHEW CYLINDER 

MATTHEW CYLINDER is a photographer and artist based in Brooklyn, NY. When he’s not eating whole mangoes, or whole loaves of bread, you can find him with a Sharpie in hand sketching surreal images that enlighten some, and scare others. Check out his work here.
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The best Ethiopian food you can get in New York, to go. (And it’s Vegan.)

Ethiopia, March, 1981.

I keep thinking of how hard it must have been for Hiyaw’s mother. Her husband had been busy, tirelessly doing agriculture work for the Emperor and then the New Regime, and teaching them how to grow crops, and find fertile land. The government, who had made note of this, didn’t want him to help them, and so had promptly put his name on a death list.

When they realized they needed to escape, Hiyaw’s mother, who was 9 months pregnant, and her husband walked for 17 days into the desert, out of Ethiopia and into Djibouti, where she would give birth to Hiyaw, in a tent, with only a camel as their witness.

The name Hiyaw, (pronounced Hee-Ohw) means immortal. (It’s a heavy name to carry, Hiyaw has a tattoo, of his name etched permanently, immortally—if you want, on his left arm) but though he was born in Djibouti, Hiyaw ended up growing up in a Leftridge, Alberta, Canada, practically the only black person, and the only Ethiopian family in the neighborhood.

His dad, an interlectual, who was educated in Tel Aviv, tried to assimilate in the white suburbs of Canada. He drove a taxi; he sold vacuum cleaners. They worked hard and eventually got three restaurants in Toronto, but due to some bad luck, lost them, and then his mom, by herself, opened two more restaurants in Michigan, which are still going strong.

Hiyaw 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.

Each of the 5 dishes from his packaged food menu have a rich memory attached to them. The Yellow Split Pea dish, for instance, reminds him of a scenario that happened when he was a child. His mother and his aunts would pick over the lentils and at the same time chat about their husbands, and their kids. It was hard work, but it was a time he remembers fondly.

And Hiyaw’s hard work has paid off; his packaged food has created buzz. He was highlighted in an article in Food and Wine magazine this last November, (Click here to see the article.) He was also approached by PBS to do a travel show within Africa, where he would go into the villages and see how the women are making their family’s food. BET has also contacted him, to expand “Task Ethiopia” to feed more people, and expose people to African cuisine, and there are a bunch of other things in the works.

His next goal is to create fusions, but not fusions within different cultures, like French and African. Hiyaw wants to create food fusions within Africa. Fusing South, East, West and North African food. The hardest part about being the first one to do the Ethiopian food-to-go thing, is there are no footsteps to follow. Although there are models for other businesses, such as Indian or Japanese, there are none so far for Ethiopian. Because of this, Hiyaw is always thinking that he has to do a good job so the world gets to taste and eat what he grew up with, and loves. But he needn’t worry. So far, his execution is flawless. Go out and pick up his food. It’s wonderful.

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Taste of Ethiopia has currently 5 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)

Taste of Ethiopia products are available 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 it’s 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.

 

To check out more about Chef and Owner Hiyaw Gebreyohannes Taste of Ethiopia, click here.

For those not in the New York area, who want to try Hiyaw’s food, you can get a recipe for the Yatikilt (cabbage and Carrots), here. And a recipe for the Misir (spicy red lentils), here.
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PHOTOGRAPH BY BRYAN GARDNER