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TIBET


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TIBET


Born to a nomad family in eastern Tibet, chef Dorjee and his family would pack up their belongings and black wool tents every season to move to new pastures for their sheep and yaks.

Dorjee grew up watching his mother and sisters cook over a cob stove. He became a Buddhist monk at age 6 and worked in monasteries for 16 years, where he learned how to prepare large amounts of food very quickly.

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INDIA


INDIA


In 2006, Dorjee fled Tibet and walked across the Himalayas for 1 month and 18 days, becoming a refugee in Nepal and then India.

He left the monastery in pursuit of a secular education, but eventually began working at Lhamo's Croissant, an international cafe and bakery, learning how to make Western food and refining his Tibetan and Chinese cooking skills. He studied English and served as a community liaison and guide for student groups, and was a well-known singer of Amdo folk songs.

In Dharamsala, Dorjee met Amberjade. Amberjade was working on human rights advocacy in India and studying Tibetan language. They fell in love, got married, and lived in India for a couple more years. Eventually they decided to move to the US to further their education and work experience.

View from our home in Amdo Village, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India. Photo by Will Strathman.

View from our home in Amdo Village, McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India. Photo by Will Strathman.

Making dumplings for Losar (Tibetan New Year) with other people from Amdo region, in Dharamsala, India.

Making dumplings for Losar (Tibetan New Year) with other people from Amdo region, in Dharamsala, India.

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WASHINGTON DC


WASHINGTON DC


Dorjee immigrated to the US in 2014, and in 2015 he and Amberjade welcomed a baby boy to their family. In Washington DC, Dorjee worked as the lead morning baker for award-winning Bullfrog Bagels, managing full production of thousands of hand-rolled bagels, from flour to final product. Dorjee next became a prep cook for Chef Erik Bruner-Yang's Cambodian/Taiwanese influenced restaurant concept Maketto. He moved to Honeycomb Grocer in Union Market, serving Japanese ramen and pork bao, and also worked at Sospeso on H Street. After building his networks and testing out recipes on groups of friends at home, Dorjee solidified his concept and goals for the future: an intimate and immersive Himalayan restaurant, with manufacturing space to develop a brand of packaged Tibetan goods and a refugee job training program.

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UNION KITCHEN - IVY CITY


UNION KITCHEN - IVY CITY


Now his dream is becoming a reality! Dorjee brings his loving attention and finely honed skills to every dish he makes at Dorjee Momo, DC's refugee-owned, family-run Tibetan nomad food startup based at Union Kitchen. Our mission is to introduce more people to the heartfelt preparation and unique flavors of Himalayan cuisine, and our approach centers delicious dishes from the Tibetan diaspora that are simultaneously authentic and creative. We're working on building our goal by serving guests and making new friends at events, festivals, private home dinners, restaurant pop ups, and collaborations with other local businesses.