Born in Ethiopia, Altaye Mihrete grew up in a diplomatic family where in addition to Ethiopia, she is also able to call Egypt, Pakistan, Cyprus, Dubai, Syria and Iran home. Upon immigrating to the United States, Chef Mihrete began her career in Chicago and became the sous chef at a 3-star restaurant Souk, working with Chef Maher Chebaro. Chef Chebaro recruited Mihrete to move to Beirut for six months to open a new contemporary restaurant called Otium as the Executive Chef. Six months turned into six years ad within this time, Mihrete opened 5 other restaurant properties from the ground up: Campo Ceviche, Bar Louie Tapas, Food Yard, and Strange Fruit. During her time here, she enjoyed working with the local bounty most, the farms, fisherman, and creating new menus every evening based on what was seasonal and available.
Mihrete eventually moved back to the US, choosing Washington, DC to be close to her brothers and together open Yazuzu, a Lebanese restaurant. It was 2004 when Mihrete first joined Occasions and after opening the restaurant, she returned to lead Occasions’ corporate drop-off catering division, formerly called Menus. After 16 years, Mihrete is now the Executive Chef for Occasions, overseeing a 30,000 sq. ft. kitchen and a team of over 100 people, producing over 4000 full-service events annually in 2019. Over the past 10 years, Mihrete also enjoys traveling back to Ethiopia where she and her family own and operate a hotel and coffee farm, employing over 1500 people.
Mihrete’s travel from infancy to an adult has created an incredibly rich culinary window with roots grounded in appreciating fresh and local. To Mihrete and Ethiopian culture, food is viewed through a strong spiritual lens. As a chef who is fluent in four languages, Amharic, English, Arabic and Spanish, Mihrete’s mission is to use food to celebrate culture and inspire others to be adventurous, learn something new and more importantly, find commonality.