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Honoree Headshot

Tigist Reda

Owner & Chef
Demera Ethiopian Restaurant

Location: Cook County
Year Founded: 2007
Industry Group Specific: Food Restaurant

Presented by:

Tigist Reda’s early years were marked by the challenges of living in Ethiopia during a period of political instability and civil war. Her family’s decision to relocate to the capital city due to these circumstances would eventually play a pivotal role in her culinary journey. Growing up as the seventh of eleven children in a household of 20 members, Reda was introduced to the intricacies of traditional Ethiopian cuisine from a young age.

“Tigist’s passion for cooking and her desire to learn the secrets of Ethiopian cuisine led her to become a valuable helper in the kitchen and the family’s tradition of hosting gatherings, holidays and celebrations instilled in her a deep appreciation for Ethiopian hospitality and the role that food plays in bringing people together,” said her staff.

Her journey to the United States began with various jobs while taking ESL classes, but her passion for cooking and entertaining never waned, which led her to open Demera Ethiopian Restaurant in the uptown area of Chicago.

Demera is a hospitality business focused on the communal dining experience, full of flavor food and healthy food. The company’s mission is to always provide a family environment, help each other and give staff the environment to grow while continuing to support the community.

“Tigist’s culinary skills and entrepreneurial spirit not only transformed her passion into a thriving business, but also introduced countless people to the flavors and traditions of Ethiopia,” said her staff. “Her journey is a shining example of the American dream, where hard work, a deep love for one’s heritage and a passion for hospitality can lead to remarkable success.”

Building on its impressive track record and resilience over the past 16 years, the restaurant is poised for even greater success in the future with the opening of a third location in 2026 and the establishment of a centralized kitchen that will supply all restaurant locations, ensuring consistent quality and streamlined operations.

Although Reda’s entrepreneurial journey is also a testament to her compassion and dedication to humanitarian causes, particularly in the face of the ongoing conflict in Tigray. She has shifted her focus toward supporting women who are survivors of gender-based violence and partners with organization such as HPN4TIGRAY, engaging in fundraising efforts to raise over a quarter of a million dollars.

“Her endeavor to help survivors create small businesses demonstrates a long-term vision for their empowerment and self-sufficiency,” said her staff. “Reda’s commitment to making a positive difference serves as an inspiration, reminding us all that even in the face of adversity, compassion and action bring hope, support and transformation to those in need.”

For her humanitarian efforts, entrepreneurial spirit and success in the restaurant industry, Reda has been named a titan.

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