By Chris Factor
Photos by TyTy Freako Vasquez
This past July, while out and about in Brooklyn, my partner and I stopped by one of our favorite places, Martine’s Dream. As usual, whenever we are there, the energy is amazing, and we meet the most interesting people. That Saturday was no different. We met a young lady, Nneka Nurse, who happened to be from Jamaica, who launched a business focused on celebrating Caribbean traditions through food.
On August 29, Nurse, through her company, Best Dressed Plate, curated an evening with Caribbean chefs, food enthusiasts and connoisseurs to celebrate Caribbean culture through food. The event, which was called Caribbean Tradishon, was created to “pay homage to what we grew up loving to eat,” said Nurse, who teamed up with seven of the most brilliant Caribbean chefs, each with a mission to take traditional Caribbean cuisine and infuse it with a modern, creative twist that will have you thinking and believing, “This is the future of Caribbean dining!”
With sponsors CaribShopper the largest online marketplace for authentic Caribbean-made products, Bleu Nuk Restaurant and New Libations a modern-day approach to wine and spirits, this invitation only event welcomed prominent Cultural Ambassadors of the Caribbean diaspora, Food Journalists, Chefs, Food Influencers, the General Consul of Barbados Mr. Oral St. E. Mackie Holder and the Grenada Tourism Authority to name a few.
The evening began with a tantalizing prelude by Chef Osei Picky Blackett, who treated guests to an array of delectable passed hors d’oeuvres. Among the highlights was the mouthwatering coconut bake and a Dhal Hummus with a drizzle of Pimento & Chadon Beni Oil, Curry Duck on fried breadfruit tostones and a Smoked Herring butter on a coconut roast bake, a delicious nod to Caribbean staples.
The palate-pleasing journey continued with the opening performance by the Jouvay Dancers, who brought the spirit of traditional Carnival characters to life. Baby Doll, The Sailorman, and an entire rhythm section ushered in a night filled with energy and flavor.
Chef Belinda Bishop of Grenada took the stage next, presenting her take on sushi that redefined our notion of this Japanese classic. Her Vegan Sushi Roll, adorned with a Tamarind and Seamoss Sauce, delivered just the right balance of spice and sweetness, leaving taste buds doing the jab jab.
Chef Renee Blackman of Barbados took the dining experience to new heights with her vegan Jerk Mushroom Ravioli, served with a luscious Bone Marrow Sauce and a Crispy Shallot Tuille. This dish won over even the most dedicated carnivores in attendance, proving that plant-based dining can be an absolute delight.
Barbados was still in the spotlight as Chef Kelston Moore paid a heartfelt tribute to his father with his Bull Hinds, a Rum Braised Short Rib accompanied by a Plantain Mascarpone whip. The dish carried a warm, comforting nostalgia that resonated with all who tasted it.
The journey continued to Haiti, with Chef Day Joseph presenting her soulful creation, Poul Ak Nwa – Chicken and Cashew roulade. Drizzled with Chicken Jus and accompanied by blistered snapped peas, this dish affectionately dubbed the “healing of a broken heart” by the chef, captured the essence of family recipes passed down through generations.
Chef Scotley Inis, representing Jamaica, took diners on a culinary elevation with his Blue Mountain Coffee Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder, served with Cassava Mochi, a Cocoa Demi Glacé, Garlic Chips, and Kale Pearls. His creation embodied the ethos of “Step Up Inna Life,” showcasing the transformation of humble ingredients into a gourmet masterpiece.
The sweet finale was orchestrated by Chef Simmone Edwards from Sweet Sweet T&T to a duo of desserts that left our sweet cravings utterly satisfied. Her Caribbean Connection Rum Cake, soaked with Tambo spiced rum and adorned with nutmeg panna cotta, mango, pineapple compote, and lime zest, was a symphony of flavors. And not to be outdone, her “Let The Ancestor Speak” Scotch Bonnet Cassava Pone, passion fruit creme brûlée, accompanied by rum chocolate bark, roasted coconuts, and peanuts, left a lasting impression and a fitting tribute to the flavors that have shaped generations making Trinidad proud.
The Caribbean Tradishon Dinner Series was more than just a meal; it was an immersive journey through the vibrant and diverse cultures of the Caribbean. Each chef brought their unique stories and flavors to the table, resulting in an unforgettable evening that left hearts and bellies equally full.
Stay tuned for more exciting installments of the Caribbean Tradishon Dinner series, where tradition meets innovation, and culinary excellence knows no bounds. Get ready to embark on another delectable adventure with Best Dressed Plate and the team of culinary maestros.