Fri | May 14, 2021

Quarantine chefs serve up meals, care packages in St Ann

Published:Saturday | April 18, 2020 | 12:00 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer
A team member delivering a care package.
A team member delivering a care package.
Richardo Aiken
Some of the food prepared.
Some of the food prepared.
left: A cook preparing to serve a meal.

It took the group of St Ann men calling themselves ‘Mi and Mi Bredda Dem Good’ less than two weeks to change their recipe from cooks competing in a social media quarantine cook-off to a team helping needy residents in the parish.

But such is the generosity required in challenging times, and the present is no different as the island battles the deadly coronavirus.

With the first cook-off, organised by Richardo Aiken, who is based in Barbados, attracting four participants from overseas – Peter Lawrence, Junior Bennett, and Duane Nash, and Dalston Williams of Canada – it was left up to the local participants to do the hands-on work in St Ann.

So the local cooks – Calvin Poorman, Levon Green, Lenworth Houston and DeRhone Campbell – were joined by Glenford Nelson, Devril Foreman, Esrick Johnson, Doren Watson, Conroy Campbell, and Breddz Levin as the evolution took place.

On Good Friday, the team cooked and served 49 meals to homeless persons in Brown’s Town and others with mental health issues.

The following day, with additional help from cooking gas company GasPro, they expanded the outreach to include persons from Claremont.

“We gave 30 needy families in Brown’s Town and Claremont care packages of food items and other basic necessities. GasPro also partnered with us on this,” Aiken told The Gleaner.

A former Social Development Commission (SDC) parish manager for St Ann, Aiken is now a community development specialist with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and is based in Barbados. He explained the reason behind the move to help those in need in St Ann.

“The main reason for us going beyond cooking is that we thought we could do more than just cook and entertain on a Sunday,” Aiken explained. “We thought it was also our social responsibility, as citizens, to also provide help for those in need during this challenging period.”

Aiken said the quarantine cook-off over the two weeks attracted thousands of followers each Sunday and has inspired a lot of persons to now cook at home and showcase their dishes online.

“There is no doubt that we are having a positive influence. Therefore, we thought our act of giving will also influence others to show how simple it is to provide help to their neighbours. We hope, through our giving, people will also find creative and simple ways to give to each other,” he added.

Aiken said the move ties in with a key strategy being used at the CDB.

“A key strategy we are using at CDB currently is effective community engagement. This has also taught me how to use technology, in this case Facebook, as a means of galvanising my friends to provide online entertainment and providing assistance to the needy. Community development, for me, is more than just a job. It’s a way of life,” he told The Gleaner.