In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting one of our favorite female restaurateurs: Tigist Reda of Demera. This beloved local restaurant has been spreading the culture and cuisine of Ethiopia for over 15 years in its original location in Chicago’s Uptown.
Tigist was born and raised in Ethiopia and has lived in Chicago for the past 20 years. “I love to cook and entertain,” she said, “So when I saw the restaurant space was available, we used all we had–our house, credit cards, everything–to open Demera.”
Thankfully, Tigist’s bet paid off. Often cited as the best Ethiopian restaurant in Chicago, Demera’s popularity and prestige has been recognized by the Michelin Guide Recommended. “Our continued growth and integration within the Uptown community in Chicago has been amazing,” Tigist said.
Tigist’s passion for entertaining came from a childhood spent preparing family meals and learning the secrets of traditional Ethiopian cuisine from the women in her family. Today she gives back to the Ethiopian community through the nonprofit program she launched in 2021, Hope 4 Tigray Women. 100% of the proceeds from the program’s various culinary events go towards Health Professionals Network for Tigray, an organization addressing the humanitarian crisis in Tigray.
“For me, being a woman in the industry means being able to see beyond just the restaurant,” Tigist explained. “It’s about bringing in the perspective of communities and families as well.”
As she looks towards the future, Tigist hopes to continue growing her nonprofit and expanding Demera’s footprint. “We would always get customers from the suburbs asking how they can access our food. Thanks to All day Kitchens, we’re now able to reach those people who live outside of the Uptown area. We’re excited to continue meeting new diners as we spread across Chicagoland.”