I remember the many days I spent growing up in Florida, smelling the hints of curry, coconut, boiled dumplings and fried plantains from the kitchen.
Like a samurai, my grandmother would offer lashes of old sayings from the yard: “One one cocoa full basket,” she’d say, a Jamaican proverb offering the sentiment that every little bit adds up to fill your basket. My connection to these memories and to the food I grew up eating is what has helped define me as a Toronto- and Miami-based chef, an author and a storyteller today.
On my journey to understanding my own cultural origins, I learned more about the meals consumed in the Caribbean diet dating back to the 1800s—and the importance of provisions, a word that refers to starchy fruits and root vegetables that grow in the region and are integral to Caribbean cuisines. Roots, tubers, plantains, green bananas, taro, cassava, yams and dasheen: These nutrient-dense and high-carbohydrate ingredients filled bellies with slow-burning, high-energy fuel and supported them on long days of manual labour in the heat of the islands.
I honour these sacrifices and the many backs that have supported me on my journey in making and loving our foods, our ingredients and our cooking techniques. Provisions have played, and continue to play, a significant role in the versatility and abundance of island countries and their varied cuisines.
I’ve created a menu full of nutritious recipes that celebrate fall and take pride in the power of provisions and in the people who have embraced these ingredients so fully. Grab your passport and take a voyage as we embrace spices, textures and flavours. Take your time and savour the moment in preparing each dish.
Eat your greens and live a prosperous life! I live and walk with this mantra. You can use collards, Swiss chard, callaloo or even kale. Adding the coconut milk softens the leaves and creates a creamy sauce at the bottom of the pot that coats each leaf. Get this braised collard greens recipe.
In my first restaurant, Saturday Dinette, we use to serve up cornbread nightly to our guests, crisping slices of it on the flat top and serving it with floral butter. I reimagined this same recipe and added the natural sweetness of puréed beets, creating a psychedelic moment with the bright red swirls, reminding you to always have fun with your food and savour the art in every slice. Get this skillet cornbread recipe and the toasted coconut rhum butter to accompany it.
This holiday staple uses the flower of the Caribbean island: hibiscus. The bright red hue and sour finish from the lime juice will have you making batches and sharing as a holiday offering to friends and family. Get this hibiscus tea recipe.
Gluten-free and full of natural sweetness, these twice-cooked cakes are an island staple from Jamaica. Their crispy and salty perfection is a wonderful introduction to the world of provisions, and is delicious paired with tamarind chutney: the fresh cilantro helps cool your palate and offers an herbaceous finale. Get this bammy recipe and the tamarind chutney to accompany it for dipping.
Cabbage and chayote are two humble ingredients that offer so much texture when used fresh or cooked on your stovetop. The playful blend of sweet and sour in this reimagined version of coleslaw leaves a pucker, maybe even a kiss, to the cook. Get this chayote slaw recipe.
In celebration of Filipino culture, enjoy this dish using the technique of adding vinegar to enhance the natural sweetness of plantains. It’s a national treasure and a showstopper to serve. Get this adobo-roasted plantains recipe.
Grandma’s macaroons just got an upgrade! A gingery kick and pureéd dates give this classic a new spin. Get this macaroons recipe.