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How Ethiopian eats found a home in Toronto’s Greektown

Banchi Kinde opened Rendez-Vous on Danforth Avenue in 2001, gravitating more than 25 Ethiopian-owned businesses to the area.
Banchi Kinde opened Rendez-Vous on Danforth Avenue in 2001, gravitating more than 25 Ethiopian-owned businesses to the area.
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Twenty years ago, Banchi Kinde opened an Ethiopian restaurant in Toronto’s Greektown.

The location she chose for Rendez-Vous, on Danforth Avenue between Coxwell and Greenwood avenues, was on the opposite side of town from the bulk of Ethiopian eats at the time.

But that decision was intentional.

“When I opened, most of the Ethiopian restaurants were on the west side of the city,” Kinde told CTV News Toronto. Instead of joining the mix, she wanted to start a movement of her own.

Now, Kinde estimates more than 25 Ethiopian-owned businesses span the restaurant’s two block radius.

“I encouraged everyone to come around and open a business,” she said.

When Kinde immigrated to Canada in 1999, the Danforth reminded her of home. “It’s a family place,” she said. In Ethiopia, she grew up in a family of seven, which meant a fulsome family table surrounded each meal.

Banchi Kinde opened Rendez-Vous on Danforth Avenue in 2001, gravitating more than 25 Ethiopian-owned businesses to the area.“It brings me good memories when I see families walking around in the neighbourhood,” Kinde said. “It gives me belonging.”

Kinde’s father was a governor, which made hosting the centrepiece of their household. With the wealth of practice, Kinde climbed her family’s hierarchy in the kitchen.

“Before I knew it, I became the best chef in the house,” she said.

The meals she fine-tuned for government officials – like her citrusy take on beef tartar, tender lamb sautéed in garlic and onions and traditional coffee ceremony, ushered in with fragrant incense and a generous bowl of popcorn – appear on the menu at Rendez-Vous.

Banchi Kinde opened Rendez-Vous on Danforth Avenue in 2001, gravitating more than 25 Ethiopian-owned businesses to the area. While the restaurant is distant from Kinde’s kitchen growing up, she’s created a family table on the Danforth.

“I love food and I love cooking,” Kinde said. “I believe food is love.” 

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