Ethiopian catering more than a business


Missy Andrusco will be offering district residents a chance to taste traditional Ethiopian cuisine during a dinner this Friday from 4-6 p.m. at the former Bonnie Blue and subsequently through her business, “Tizita’a Catering,” where she will cook at “The Kitchen Table” restaurant on Scott Street twice a week. But for Andrusco, who grew up in Ethiopia and now calls Fort Frances home, it is so much more than a business venture.

In fact, her reason for catering is two-fold—to share the Ethiopian culture and to help children there who are struggling to survive. During an Ethiopian dinner Andrusco catered at the Covenant Church here back on Nov. 9, proceeds were sent to the African country to help children on the street.“We raised $1,000,” she noted, adding she began helping the Ethiopian children eight years ago and is contact with a pastor there. The money was used to give 10 children a place to sleep, as well as provide them with food and clothing. “They were so happy,” Andrusco enthused, adding the pastor is trying to send some video or photos of the difference the funds made in time to show at Friday’s dinner.And with her catering business, she plans to continue to give 15 percent of her profits to the pastor.

But Andrusco stressed that just because a portion of the population in Ethiopia struggles to survive, the whole country is not like that. “We have so much culture,” she remarked. “I want to show people; to experience the beauty and joy from a different angle.” For instance, Andrusco said they always have coffee after a meal in Ethiopia. “Every morning my mother would prepare the coffee while making breakfast,” she recalled, noting the coffee is prepared by taking the fresh coffee beans, roasting them, and grinding them up into a coffee powder. Each person gets a chance to inhale the rich aroma. This then is combined with water in a special traditional pot, called a jebana, and there is a coffee ceremony.

“Neighbours come over for coffee in Ethiopia,” Andrusco explained, adding it’s quite a bit different than in Canada. As well, families in Ethiopia tend to eat together from one plate of food—without utensils. “Family shares everything—that’s how we do it,” she said. Andrusco, who owed a restaurant in Ethiopia for five years, was thrilled that more than 75 people turned out for her dinner Nov. 9. “I just had faith that God would bring the people,” she revealed. “And I didn’t know if people would like my food, but many asked me to please do it again.
“They said Fort Frances needs something different.

“It’s not only about showing my culture, but also about giving life and hope to children [in Ethiopia],” Andrusco stressed, admitting she struggled at first being in Canada away from her family.
But she knew God had a plan for her and after praying about it, this is what she knows He wanted her to do. “I’m in a place where I’m accepted and I can make change,” Andrusco reasoned. “Now I know it was a blessing because I can give back. “I never imagined it would be this way.”

Friday’s dinner, which costs $25 for adults and $15 for children, will offer a variety of Ethiopian foods. “It will take three days of cooking to do it all,” Andrusco explained, noting she makes her own butter and cheese. And all the dishes are made using spices from Ethiopia. “I get the vegetables and meat from here but the spices are 100 percent from Ethiopia,” she stressed. “This is what I grew up on.

“So many different spices combined, to get it right you have to get them from Ethiopia.” But Andrusco said she will have forks so people don’t have to eat with their hands. She’s hoping the dinner will give people an idea of what Ethiopian food tastes like so people will know what to expect from her catering business. “I want to let people know what I’m doing and why,” she explained, noting she’s just someone who wants to help those who are less fortunate than her. For both Friday’s dinner and the catering at “The Kitchen Table,” people will be able to eat in or take out. However, for those who enjoy the sit-down meal, Andrusco will be on hand to explain the dishes and the cultural aspects behind them. And while she’ll be at “The Kitchen Table” only a couple days a week, customers will be able to call anytime to request items off her menu.

These include everything from Ye stom bye Ayentu (a mixed vegetable dish) and Ye fisge bye Ayentu (a mixed meat dish) to Kitifo (ground beef with traditional butter, served with homemade cheese) and Tibbs (steak with spices). Andrusco added if this endeavour goes well, and if it is God’s will, she hopes to one day open her own traditional Ethiopian restaurant here in Fort Frances.
“It would feel like you are in Ethiopia,” she said about her vision, noting she would bring in all the traditional pots, decor, and clothing.

“I’m very excited about it all and very happy,” she enthused.

By Heather Latter Staff writer,