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Indulging in Ethiopian food and culture!

June 16, 2009

Featured in The Examiner
06/03/09 10:04 PM EDT

Indulging in Ethiopian food and culture

By: Alexandra Greeley

Zed's owner-chef eager to let her Georgetown restaurant feed and educate D.C.

Whether she's greeting guests at meal times, finishing up a dish in the kitchen with her cook, Bekelech Tessama or advocating for fellow Ethiopians in the local community through the church and with hunger relief, Zed Wondemu (pronounced Wan-day-moo) has made a distinctive mark on the Washington restaurant scene. Zed's, as her Georgetown restaurant is known, was one of the first Ethiopian restaurants to open in the city, and
definitely the first in Georgetown.

But running a restaurant with a lifetime of cooking had not been among her original life plans. A native Ethiopian, Wondemu moved to the United States when she was only 15 years old and attended Bowie State University, where she earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree. Faced with selecting a viable career after graduation, she opened a small coffee shop in the District.

"I knew that my choices were limited at the time as a woman and as a foreigner," she says. But her venture was so successful she opened a second, third and then a fourth coffee shop.

But the timing was right for bigger and better outlets for her energies. The Ethiopian colleague who had been cooking for her suggested they partner in a business to make and sell the famed Ethiopian injera bread. Instead, they ended up opening the first Zed's (also in Georgetown, but at a different M Street location). At first, business was slow, perhaps, Wondemu speculates, because Ethiopian food seemed so exotic then. After a year,
the partner quit, leaving Wondemu with all the cooking. No problem, she says.

"I love to cook and clean," she said. "And I love food, good food." Read the full story