Caribbean cuisine is as varied as the many cultures that have settled in or traveled through the region. Foods and flavors were brought to the islands of the Caribbean Sea from West Africa and South Asia, among other areas, making the development of fruit chutneys, hot pepper sauces, and the versatile breadfruit possible and fusing long-held and cherished recipes and food preparation methods into the unique island flavors enjoyed today. As a guide to Caribbean cuisine, Travel and Leisure has identified six of the most innovative chefs displaying their talents in the Caribbean. Among these six chefs are three Jamaicans.
Chef Adrian Forte, who is of Jamaican heritage, grew up in Canada and is currently based in Turks and Caicos, cherishes the memory of his Jamaican grandmother who made a special meal for his ninth birthday. The meal included baked chicken, macaroni pie, and potato salad. He so loved this meal that these all-time favorite dishes have been included in Forte’s new cookbook, “Yawd.” Recipes for his special childhood favorites can be found alongside the chef’s modern takes on Afro-Caribbean foods like oxtail gnocchi. Forte, who was a semifinalist on the popular competitive cooking show “Top Chef Canada,” believes that Caribbean food can be as “gourmet” as any other cuisine. His goal with the “Yawd” cookbook is to serve as a “culinary conduit” that brings people together. Forte plans to open a French-Caribbean bistro on Providenciales in the fall of 2022.
The Jamaican sisters Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau have been stalwarts of the culinary world for almost 30 years. They are the authors of award-winning cookbooks, have hosted television shows, and also operated a number of restaurants on their home island of Jamaica. The Rousseau sisters present themselves as storytellers and preservers of the culture of the Caribbean. Their approach has been inspired by recipes passed on by the women of their family. At present, the Rousseaus own and operate Harmony Hall, a manor house dating from 1886 located outside of Ocho Rios on a former sugar plantation that has been designated a National Heritage Trust site. The venue includes the concept store Island Magnolia, which celebrates the artisans of the Caribbean, and the Summerhouse restaurant whose menu centers on seasonal produce and the spices and herbs of the islands. The coal-pot goat roti with coconut, white rum, and pineapple-mango salsa, as well as the restaurant’s other fine dishes, are meant to be shared.
The other chefs on Travel and Leisure’s list include Julius Jackson of the U.S. Virgin Islands, head chef and manager of the MBW Café & Bakery; Alisha Stoute of Barbados, executive chef of Eco Lifestyle & Lodge who focuses on plant-based Caribbean dishes; and Isaac Villaverde of Panama, executive chef of La Tapa del Coco and operator of the pop-up Calypso Burger.