Chef’s Special: Chef Hanan Mosa
Chef Hanan Mosa
Hawwi Ethiopian Cafe & Restaurant
1125 Queen St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
When did you first become interested in cooking and why did you decide to pursue a culinary career?
I was brought up in a large family, in a culture where a mastery of cooking is expected of ones daughter. At the age of twelve, I was encouraged to learn to make authentic Ethiopian foods from my late dear mother, who was believed to have a magic hand when it came to cooking. People who have eaten my healthy and delicious food in Ethiopia, Germany and here in the U.S. have given me the warm approval and courage to start my own family restaurant.
Who have been the biggest inspirations for your career?
My late mother was always my biggest example and inspiration for my career. She was a business woman, anything she cooked turned out wonderful and people loved her cooking. She taught me to be honest, clean, resourceful, and to always be truthful. To always give back. She said to help the poor and feed the hungry.
Dish on the menu your curious to see how it’s received?
I’m always curious to see how first time customers to Ethiopian cuisine, enjoy our Lega Tibs, Doro Wat, Vegan Sampler, and different Combos served atop of Injera. Injera, which is a sourdough-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy porous texture, made of Teff, a gluten-free whole grain that is mineral rich and high in protein. This porous structure allows the injera to be a good bread to scoop up sauces and dishes. Using one’s right hand, small pieces of injera are torn and used to grasp the stews and salads for eating. The injera under these stews soaks up the juices and flavors of the foods and, after the stews and salads are gone, this bread is also consumed. Injera is thus simultaneously food, eating utensil, and plate. When the entire “tablecloth” of injera is gone, the meal is over.
What do you do to insure the quality of the food going out to customers remains high?
We serve fresh, healthy food purchased from local farmers. We pride ourselves in keeping a very clean, comfortable restaurant and strive to cook the very best delicious traditional Ethiopian dishes with courteous, warm service for our customers. We greet people warmly and treat them more like old friends or family than customers.
If any chef in the world could prepare you a meal, who would it, be?
May God bless her soul, my mom, Addida, who raised us four children, and who is in heaven now. I miss her, God Bless her!
What’s your guilty food pleasure?
Grapes, apples, oranges, but I’m really crazy for fresh strawberries.
Written by: Chester Simpson
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