Caribbean cuisine is finally getting its due on the foodie scene.
As if blown northward by the shifting US-Cuba political headwinds, a globalized variant of Caribbean cuisine is taking hold in New York, Los Angeles and beyond.
The Food Sermon, which opened in February 2015 in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, features the cuisine of chef Rawlston Williams’s native St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It has drawn growing crowds with its inventive yet subtle innovations on the cuisine of the West Indies. “The initial plan was for us to be a catering kitchen and open to the public for about 3 to 4 hours a day,” says Williams. “But we found people complaining about our short opening hours and now we are mainly a kitchen which occasionally caters.”
Goat, normally served with potatoes, here comes with a side of yams that add sweetness to the dish, and oxtail, usually prepared in a stew in Caribbean cuisine, is served whole with a range of sides.”The lamb is our number one seller, followed by our salmon bowl,” says Williams. “At The Food Sermon traditional Caribbean food is not our goal, it is our starting point.”
For many residents in traditionally West Indian neighborhoods like Crown Heights, the Food Sermon is a taste of home. But the area has recently become one of the fastest-gentrifying areas in New York, so the cuisine is now reaching beyond traditionally Caribbean communities and receiving mass attention.
The winds are also shifting in California. In San Francisco’s newly upscale Mission District, Coco Frio opened earlier this year to spotlight the cuisine of Isla Margarita, a Venezuelan island in the Caribbean. In Los Angeles, Grilled Fraiche, a food truck serving Cali-Caribbean fusion creations, crosses town serving bowls filled with grains, a rich protein, and veggies topped with a flavor-packed scotch bonnet sauce, all with a side of fried plantains.
Caribbean cuisine in the United States has moved far beyond the days of prepackaged Jamaican patties typically sold in ethnic delis, and now reflects the full mélange of flavors that combined to create it, including African, Chinese, Spanish, French and Indian influences. An authentically fusion cuisine, it’s finally getting its due among mainland foodies.
See our full report, Food + Drink: Trends and Futures, for more trends in the food and drink sector.