The book being launched in Nuremberg/Photo: Netsi Berhane

How an African refugee became a star chef in Germany

Anteneh Defabachew came to Germany as a refugee from Ethiopia. Today, he has become a star cook, working for one of the prestigeous hotels in Germany. His autobiography of how he overcame his humble beginnings to achieving fame in Germany was launched recently in Nuremberg. Here’s a report of the event by Netsi Berhane

Anteneh Defabachew displays his book/Photo: Anteneh Defabachew/Facebook

On the weekend of 29-30 October 2022, the debut reading of young Ethiopian author Anteneh Defabachew took place in Nuremberg.

With Ethiopian guests of honour such as the medical doctor and popular TV celebrity Dr Wodajeneh Meharene, the philosopher Dr Yonas Zewdie, as well as the Ethiopian Ambassador, Mrs Mulu Solomon Bezuneh, the extremely professional moderators, Mrs Almaz Lemene and Mr Yonas Bizuneh, skilfully guided the audience through the afternoon and alternately read excerpts from the book Der Flüchlingskoch (The refugee cook) in both German and Amharic.

Prince (Dr) Asfa Wossen Asserate, who also wrote the foreword in the book, was billed to be the guest of honour. Unfortunately, he could not attend the event but his congratulatory message was read out by German Landrat Mr Herbert Lang.

The well-known Ethiopian writer, Mr Hiylemelekot Mewalie – editor, and Mr Yonas Tarekegn – German translator, participated in the reading via video connect as they played a major role in the making of the book. Der Flüchlingskoch was written originally in Amharic in 2013 and subsequently published by Romeon Verlag, Düsseldorf in 2018.

Everyone who has read the book inevitably agrees that Mr Anteneh Defabachev’s life story is peppered with heartbreaking experiences, as there were few individual opportunities in socialist Ethiopia. Everyone who could, left the country as quickly as possible because the war with neighbouring Eritrea brought more than pain to Ethiopians.

Forced conscription into the army dominated the daily lives of young men and women and the closure of universities, polytechnic colleges and private educational institutions were the final stab in the face of young people’s inability to develop their potential.

That one can escape all blows of fate with dignity is proven not only by Mr Defabachew’s life motto ‘Giving up is not an option’, but also by his current employment in a 5-star hotel in Nuremberg. For seven years now, he has been able to work in high-class German kitchens, which fills him with more than pride. In his wildest dreams he could never have thought that Germany would become the country where he would fulfil his life’s dreams.

With the help of the Society for the Promotion of Ethiopian Arts, it was also possible to find sponsors for the weekend. This made a long-awaited Ethiopian meeting with live music by a London-based band possible.

Mr Defabachew’s intention to organise readings of this kind in other major German cities was warmly welcomed by the Ethiopian diaspora. The cities of Munich, Frankfurt and Essen have directly agreed to start planning the event.

Please keep an eye out for posters in your city and come to one of the next readings. For details, please contact:

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