Zenash Beyene, chef and owner of Ras Dashen, was born in Belese, Ethiopia, in the mountains near Ras Dashen, the tallest mountain in Ethiopia. She learned to cook at a very early age to help her mother who used to make Jebena (clay pots for coffee) in the porch of their home. Zenash also helped with this task often. Among the skills that Zenash learned as a girl was that of grinding coffee and teff grain, preparing and making injera, cutting chicken and making wat sauce. Her mom taught her the different spices as well. By the age of ten she was responsible for cooking for the whole family. As time went by she acquired more skills and recipes that also include unfiltered beer and tej, the honey wine she serves at the restaurant.
Like many people in her situation, Zenash does not know her exact date of birth. When she was a teen she left Ethiopia and lived in Sudan for seven years. She worked for awhile in Saudi Arabia to open her own restaurant in Khartoum. When the opportunity arrived, she emigrated to the United States, at the age of 23, with dreams of opening a restaurant in America.
About the Simian Mountains
Ras Dashen Mountains - 15,157 ft.
Our restaurant's name, Ras Dashen, literally means "king of rubble" and is the highest mountain in Ethiopia. It is also the highest of the Simien range, a group of eroded mountains that rises stunningly from the surrounding 9,000 foot plateau in northern Ethiopia. Despite the overall high elevation of Ethiopia, the Simien range is the only place in the country that is regularly snow-covered in winter. The mountains are composed of basalt volcanic rock, though there are no active volcanoes today. In the midst of the Simien range, Ras Dashen is a cluster of nine rocky peaks.
The mountain trails of the Simien Range are dotted with many small agricultural villages. The Simien landscape consists of a rolling massif cut by several valleys. The high rainfall in the area feeds strong-flowing rivers which have eroded gullies and ravines into the escarpment, creating a landscape filled with towers, spires, mesas and statue-like formations that has often been compared to Arizona's Grand Canyon. The Simien National Park has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Simien Mountains National Park - the mountains high lands constitute on of the major mountain massif in Africa. The region includes many summits above 4000 meters and culminates in the highest point in Ethiopia. Its dramatic topography is the result of the erosion of basalt lavas, which have been calculated to be nearly 3000 meters thick.
As this place is secluded there are various species of Endemic mammals like Walia Ibex (Ras Dashen Restaurant's Logo), Simien Fox and Gelada Baboon. In addition, there are lots of endemic birds and plants.