Chef's Table: Belaynesh Wondimagegnehu of Buna Cafe
Chef Belaynesh Wondimagegnehu opened her Ethiopian restaurant in West Philadelphia, Buna Cafe, in the middle of the pandemic.
State of play: Wondimagegnehu said the cafe began taking orders in late 2020 as a way "to give our community and ourselves something positive to look forward to hope, and wholesome food."
- "Cooking is what I know — something I've done my whole life and something I know offers comfort and brings people together," said Wondimagegnehu, who founded the restaurant with her husband Demelash Demeasie.
We spoke to Wondimagegnehu for our culinary advice series, Chef's Table.
🛠 Must-have tool in your home kitchen: A wooden spoon.
- "I love the feel and nostalgia of using a spoon, and more of my dishes require heavy stirring," she said.
🍝 Favorite home-cooked meal: Simple spaghetti with garlic, basil and olive oil.
🍽 Last restaurant visited and order: White Dog Cafe for a salmon dish.
🛒 Go-to grocery store: "Whole Foods for my favorite whole grain loaf loaded with nuts and fruit," she said.
🤔 Most overlooked ingredient: Black cardamom.
- "It's what gives my dishes an extra punch. It's more available in African cuisine, but I rarely find it, if ever, in American restaurants," she said.
☝🏽 Quick tip for at-home cooks: "Cook down your onions, caramelize them. They make a great base for almost anything."
🔌 How to unplug: "As long as I'm home with family listening to classic Ethiopian music, and frankincense is in the air, I'm content."
- "When I get bored, I play tricks on my family," she added.
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