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Boise chef celebrates first James Beard nomination for Ethiopian cuisine

Boise chef celebrates first James Beard nomination for Ethiopian cuisine

BOISE, Idaho – Boise hasn’t always been known for its wide variety of ethnic food offerings, but the population boom is expanding restaurant options in the Treasure Valley. A local chef has now been honored as a James Beard Award semifinalist for his ethiopian and eritrea menu,

Kimbrom Milash arrived in Boise about ten years ago from a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where he and his wife ran a cafeteria and eventually a restaurant.

Milash said, “Everyone liked the restaurant.” “Even UN workers used to come to our restaurant, and they were eating at our restaurant, so it was cool.”

The menu at his State Street restaurant in Boise features meaty options but is largely vegetarian, with a focus on lentils, peas, cabbage, kale and carrots. Most are seasoned with spices shipped from Ethiopia and served with injera, an Ethiopian fermented flatbread made from teff flour.

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Milash said, “I can see that some of our customers are drug addicts like me.” “I can’t start my day without eating this bread.”

They offer a huge menu but for first time customers, they actually have a glossary that explains what a lot of the ingredients are. Kibrom says that their returning customer base has become quite seasoned over the years.

“I actually see a lot of change in it, because when we first started, I can say that I was eating off my plate and having lunch with customers,” Milash said. “I had to show them how to eat the food because it’s finger food and it’s really new to Boise and Idaho.”

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“Now everybody comes and they teach each other and everybody’s talking about this food,” Milash said. “So when they come they already know how to eat and what to order.”

It’s not just Idaho natives who are expanding their palettes to taste Kibrom’s cooking, the menu earned the chef a spot on this year’s James Beard Awards semifinalist list along with three other Boise area chefs.

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Milash said, “It is a big deal for us. We are refugees and we come from a country where there is no peace and when we get this big opportunity, it is like being born again for us.” “So I feel very, very happy and very honored for the people of Idaho and even for America.”

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