Born in Ethiopia, Ayalnesh Chanialew learned the art of cooking Ethiopian foods from watching others. When she started cooking she wanted to change the traditional cooking with a new technique and style without compromising flavor. She substitutes slow cooking under low heat with less oil and butter. Ayu avoided using butter as much as possible substituting olive oil infused with herbs and established measurement for consistent outcome and flavor.
During her young age Ayu traveled with her Father who was an Ambassador from Ethiopia to different countries. During that time Ayu adapt to different culture and cuisine.
Most of her life Ayu worked for different Hotels which are rated four and five stars holding different Managerial position..
In 1989 Ayu decided to open an Ethiopian restaurant in Downtown Oakland. The restaurant operated for five years and closed it’s doors in 1995. It was difficult time, right after the Loma Preia earthquake. Ayu went back to hotel management.
During the time that she owned the restaurant she was experimenting with the Ethiopian flat bread (INGERA) to create chips. Her thinking was if tortilla and pita bread can convert to chips why not the Ethiopian flat bread. She tested it on her customers and it was widely accepted.
She started packaging her Ingera Chips, she went around to health food stores sampling the chips few stores accepted the product, and it was selling well. Due to the complexity of making the chips and not having the proper financial backing she decided to put it back on the back burner again.
Ayu still felt Ethiopian food was under promoted. The vegetarian- vegan dishes are healthy. Ethiopians eat vegan 200 days out of the 365 days due to the Ethiopian Orthodox religion. During those 200 days, Ethiopians eat legumes and vegetables seasoned with spicy ingredient or mild spices. Onion, Garlic, ginger, chili and cardamom are the main spices in Ethiopian cooking.
After so many years, in 2011 Ayu started her company SHEBA. She still believes there is demand in packaging fresh, organic and quality authentic Ethiopian food so she started with her Ingera Chips and Spicy Red Lentil Sauce (WAT). Three months later she added five different sauces and dips. Now you will see Sheba product in grocery shelves. Ayu is still working to add more recipes to her collection.