Cross Cultures Serves Up an Ethiopian Experience

One of the best things about traveling, if not the best part of it, is experiencing the food a country has to offer.

For writer/publisher/traveler, Cheryl Tiu, food can be a powerful way of bringing awareness and understanding to a foreign culture. Because of this perspective, she set up Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu, an events platform which aims to bring together chefs & cooks, countries & continents through food. When she introduced the idea, she explained that  food is one of the most accessible ways of exchanging culturesThrough the sharing of culinary experiences and talents between chefs and cooks, between countries and continents, I hope to dispel misconceptions and remove boundaries, and rather integrate and contribute in building a more global community.”

She also revealed that the first Cross Cultures pop up dinner was to be a collaboration with another personally-driven food movement, Helina Tesega‘s Eat Ethio.

More than a movement about food, Eat Ethio is a movement for Ethiopian culture. What do we really know about Ethiopia? More likely we only know vague ideas about it — probably revolving around famine, war, and poverty. That’s actually a lot of misconception as there is so much more to this culturally rich country!

I interviewed Cheryl and asked her about her insights : “There were so many misconceptions about the place because it was so far away, and not much is known about it on this side of the world. On the contrary, Ethiopia is one of the fastest economies of today; people are so kind, and not only is there food there — but it’s delicious!”

Unfortunately, there’s no proper Ethiopian restaurant in the Philippines which is why Cross Cultures by Cheryl Tiu sought out Helina Tesega (whom Cheryl said she stalked on social media) to prepare an authentic Ethiopian dinner for Filipinos to experience.

The result was a sumptuous menu served in Gallery Vask last week. It was a sold-out event, a clear sign that the Filipino dining crowd is open and excited for more flavors and culinary ideas!



Helina Tesega personally explained each dish that was served that night.



It was a collaboration of sorts between our very own and talented Chef Chele Gonzales of Gallery Vask and Helina Tesega, as they both supervised the kitchen and made the Ethiopian dishes come to life.

Ethiopian cuisine is not formally served; similarly to Filipino or Asian ways, food is really meant more to be shared than plated individually. For this event though, we were treated to single servings so that we could savor and enjoy each dish slowly, one dish at a time.

We started with..

Ambasha : Housemade ambasha bread, telba (flaxseed spread), timatim (tomatoes), and radish.
Kategna : Injera with Awaze and Ayib cheese
Prawn Wrap and Ceviche : Berbere and mojo marinated grilled prawns, kolo (toasted barley) and mustard leaves. On the side are 3 rice crackers topped with ceviche of fin tuna, mitmita, olive oil infused with korerima, calamansi, soof (toasted safflower seeds).
Kitfo : Mayura wagyu beef tartare, mitmita, korerima, kibe with gomen (kale) and housemade ayib cheese. This was served with toasted injera and ambasha.
Azifa : Dark speckled lentils, senafich (Ehtiopian mustard), spinach, timatim (cherry tomatoes)
Lamb Tibs : lamb, kibe and mitmita.
Doro Wot : Berbere spiced slow – cooked chicken wot, housemade soft cheese, soft boiled egg, served with gluten free teff injera and “Helina’s Dad’s Rice” inspired rice. This dish was packed with a whole lot of spices and flavor – it was easily everyone’s favorite!
The housemade Injera bread, that went well with the Doro Wot!
Gelati for Dessert : Popcorn Ice Cream served with a shot of buna, “pour-over” Ethiopian single-origin coffee
The perfect ending : Gallery Vask’s pure dark chocolate truffles in extra virgin olive oil and topped with salt ended the whole deliciously exotic meal on a high note!
Chef Chele Gonzales, Pepper Teehankee, Cheryl Tiu, Helina Tesega, myself and Mia Borromeo

What a delightfully exotic evening discovering Ethiopia’s rich, flavorful food. It was a wonderful introduction to a whole new world of foreign herbs, spices, and cooking traditions. Congratulations Cheryl on Cross Culture’s first successful event. Looking forward to more delicious and culturally rich events in the future!

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