Photography by Michelle Kilfeather
When he was a teenager, Eskender Aseged fled his home country on foot.
In Part 1, the Radio Africa owner shares the story of walking from Communist Ethiopia to Sudan in the early 1980s. He found work in Khartoum and learned English, and he and his brother eventually got refugee status from the U.S. They arrived in Newark, New Jersey in 1986, and Eskender soon moved to New York City, where he worked as a busboy at the UN building.
He first visited San Francisco in 1986, when he came out here with his girlfriend at the time. He fell in love with The City immediately, as it reminded him of his hometown of Gondar. His first San Francisco home was in Bernal Heights, but he started spending more and more time in the nearby Mission, mostly in coffee shops. He found work in various San Francisco restaurants, including Cafe Majestic, Jeremiah Tower's Stars, and Joyce Goldstein's Square One.
In Part 2, Eskender talks about how, after working for Joyce Goldstein at Square One, he went to Campton Place, where he worked with and learned a lot from chef Daniel Humm. He started doing an underground restaurant in his home, and that became his full-time gig starting in 2005. It was the birth of Radio Africa Kitchen.
The owner of Velo Rogue suggested that Eskender bring his food to her cafe as a pop-up. On the heels of success there, he moved over to a coffee shop near his home in the Mission, and that eventually led to opening his own restaurant on Third Street.
Eskender ends the podcast describing both his food and his philosophy of food.
Radio Africa Kitchen is open for pickup every Tuesday from noon to 3 p.m. If you've never eaten there, please consider it. There's really nothing quite like it in The City or the Bay Area.
We recorded this podcast at Radio Africa in July 2020.