"Managing a restaurant and travel business is hectic and time consuming but I always try to stay positive."
- Dawa Sherpa
Dawa Sherpa owns/operates/chef of Himalaya Bistro, Sherpa International Expeditions and is President of The Maya Sherpa Project in Fort Collins, CO.
Tell us about your country, what it was like growing up there, and your early education
I grew up in a very small remote village of the eastern part of Nepal. During my childhood I did not go to preschool or an elementary school until I was about 8 years old. The challenge was the nearest school I could walk to was about 2 hours each way. Luckily when I was 8 years old, an elementary school opened about 10 minutes away and I had the opportunity to complete grades 1-5. When I was 13, I continued on to a high school about 25 miles northwest of our hometown. Junbesi High School is one of the schools Sir Edmond Hillary founded (the first person to summit Mt. Everest) built in the Everest region of Nepal. In 1995 when I graduated at age 18, I moved to Kathmandu, the Capital of Nepal. I went to college and during the holy days and summer and winter breaks, I started working a porter for trekking company. In 1997, I completed trekking guide training to become a certified trekking guide. I worked for the same trekking company for about three years.
Who was your strongest role model growing up?
My mom. She always worked hard and encouraged us to do our best at school or any work. My mom was mother of 3 daughters and 3 sons. My dad died when I was 10 years old. My mom is a strong woman - she raised all of us and took care of our farm and sent us to school. At 76, she is still very strong and always makes sure that we do the right thing!
When did you start becoming connected with the food of your country?
In my hometown there is no coffee/tea shops or any restaurants - we made our own breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. One most know how to make a meal or must know how to grow vegetables/farming. The love of growing food and preparing for a meal is connected to my early age.
When did you move to the U.S.?
What risks did you take moving away from your home country? (Financial, etc.)
I would say there were more opportunities than risk when I moved to the US - but moving away from my friends and family was the hardest thing I have experienced. I am still in touch with few of my high school friends and my family back in Nepal but most of them also moved elsewhere out of Nepal and I have no where some of my friends are now.
Tell us about your goals when you moved to the U.S.
My dream was to go to College in the United States - and it came true when I started an Intensive English Program at CU Boulder in 1999. When I finished in 2000, I started taking classes at Front Range Community College Boulder Campus and I finished my Associate of Science while I was managing Mt. Everest Café in Fort Collins. I received my Bachelor of Business from CSU 2012 and Masters of Tourism Management in 2015 at CSU.
When did you start dreaming of Himalayan Bistro? How did it come to fruition
My wife and I were taking about an idea of opening an upscale restaurant in Fort Collins. Right after my graduation we found the Front Range Village location and we started working on remodeling the space and Himalayan Bistro was opened on June 16, 2016!At Himalayan Bistro, we provide a unique experience bringing culinary art and recipes from Himalaya to Northern Colorado.
Tell us about the Maya Sherpa Project
My daughter Maya first visited to the Solukhumbu region of the Nepal when she was 7 years old. Solukhumbu is home to the ethnic Sherpas where I grew up. During her trip to the region, she studied in a local school with children of her own age. Maya had an opportunity to have fun with the kids there, as she does at home. As a result, Maya asked about building a playground for the school, bringing joy to others who have less than she did. We agreed on her ideas and her wish were the beginning of the Maya Sherpa Project.
The Maya Sherpa Project (MSP) is now a not-for-profit foundation (501c3) that is dedicated to contributing resources that will sustain the well being of the Sherpa communities in the Solukhumbu region of the Himalayas.
Tell us about Sherpa International Expeditions
I love to travel and love sharing our part of the world with friends and guests from the western part of the world. I have been organizing small group treks to Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan for almost two decades. In 2000, I founded a travel company - Peak to Peak Travel when I was living in Boulder county very close by the Peak to Peak Highway. In 2018, Peak to Peak Travel was rebranded to Sherpa International Expeditions with a mission to provide astonishing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our guests, experiences which they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Our dynamic and knowledgeable team of travel and tour professionals makes every effort to ensure that your trip not only meets but surpasses all your expectations. The tour services offer our guests exceptional, and personalized travel experiences specializing in the divine mountainous regions of Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet.
As a restaurant owner and travel director, what are some of the biggest challenges you face?
The two biggest challenges I often face as a restaurant owner and travel director are time management and the other is human resource management. As a restaurant owner and travel director I always feel there is so much to do in such short period of time. It includes returning phone calls, text messages and responding to an emails, training a new team member and 10 to 12 hours per day 6 to 7 days per week at the restaurant. The second challenge is keeping your good team member on board. As life happens, we move place to place for better opportunities and experiences. It is same with the hospitality industry - we face high employee turn over.
What is your mantra?
Managing a restaurant and travel business is hectic and time consuming but I always try to stay positive. Here is a quote from the Dalai Lama - which is my daily Mantra:
“Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” ~Dalai Lama
VEGETABLE COCONUT CURRY
A healthy vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free recipe
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2- 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS. fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeno, finely chopped
1 TBS. coconut or canola oil
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/3 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. yellow curry powder
1 small head of cauliflower (cut into small pieces)
1 medium Idaho potato (peel the skin and cut into small cubes)
1 C. green beans, cut into 1-2" pieces
1 medium carrot (cut into small cubes)
1 C. of coconut milk
1/2 tsp. salt (add to taste)
1 tsp. fresh cut cilantro
½ tsp. fresh cut green onion
Heat the oil at medium heat and add in the onion, garlic, ginger and jalapeno. Allow to cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently
Add in the turmeric, coriander, cumin powder and curry powder and stir it for one more minute or two
Add in the cut cauliflower, carrot, potatoes and green beans and stir slowly for about 5 minutes.
Add in ½ teaspoon salt, and cup of coconut milk and stir it.
Cover and allow the vegetables to cook low/ medium heat for about 15- 20 minutes, or until all the veggies are tender (Keep checking every 5 minutes and stir frequently).
Add green onions and cilantro and test the curry- add salt if needed - your healthy delicious Vegetable coconut curry is ready to with plain steamed basmati rice or brown rice.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes
To find out more:
- FOOD IS ADVENTURE -
THANK YOU DAWA!
STEPHANIE, SAVI AND MARTY