Deh Abroad Village hosts Caribbean American Restaurant Week
Co-founder calls RW conceptualiser Stephanie Scott’s concept an inspiration
The Caribbean is so much more than sun, sand, and sea, says Dominic Christopher, co-founder of Deh Abroad Village, a New York-based organisation focused on creating a network for wealth creation and cultural awareness.
“Our region is flavourful – the people, the cultures – part of that is the food,” Christopher told The Gleaner, adding that the US is home to more than 500 Caribbean-owned restaurants, “with so many different offerings”.
“I don’t know much about entertainment, but I’m a foodie. I can tell what ingredients persons put in their food from the first taste and nothing beats our flavours. The food and beverage aspect of culture is underestimated, but we do have persons that travel to the islands to experience that solely.”
Always thinking one step ahead about ways to highlight the culture of the islands while at the same time providing support to the diaspora, Deh Abroad Village joined forces with the Caribbean American Restaurant Association (CARA) to curate an epicurean experience for Caribbean Heritage Month. The Caribbean American Restaurant Week kicks off its second staging this weekend with restaurants from New York, Florida and California, adding to the table of offerings from June 12-18.
CARA is a community organisation whose goals are aimed at advocating on behalf of Caribbean hospitality and nightlife businesses, particularly as it relates to government policies that disproportionately impact small Caribbean restaurants and hospitality businesses.
“Most restaurants struggled – and struggled hardly describes the challenges – during the pandemic. Working collectively to understand the challenges, and the resources or lack thereof that these restaurant owners had to deal with, made us see what needed to be done,” said Christopher about the reasoning behind the week-long event. With a vision to provide more exposure to the business community of Caribbean people and highlight the cuisine as part of the dynamic culture of the region, he said the organisations have focused on marketing the event in a way that allows for more exposure to each participating restaurant, and while he has never experienced Restaurant Week in Jamaica which the late Stephanie Scott conceptualised, he said her concept has been an inspiration.
“Jamaica plays a pivotal role in the idea. About 53 per cent of immigrants are from the Caribbean, and of the English-speaking countries, Jamaica has the largest number,” Christopher shared. “The idea of our restaurant week is similar because we have managed to plan with the restaurants to offer discounts [so] that consumers can enjoy multi-course dining. This restaurant week is special for me because it gives our community the opportunity to come back stronger and spread our culture to people who will absolutely fall in love with our food.”
Interested persons may access the list of restaurants at www.caribbeanrestaurantweek.us.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams is supporting the Caribbean American Restaurant Week. “The COVID-19 pandemic financially hurt many restaurants in New York City, but by Supporting Caribbean American Restaurant Week, this is a step towards helping them recover,” said Adams.
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke shared the same sentiment. “Not only will there be a myriad of delicious food to choose from, but this is also an opportunity to highlight small Caribbean-owned businesses and support their economic recovery from the devastating impacts of COVID-19,” said Clarke. “As a Jamaican-American woman, I take great pride in my heritage and understand the illustrious legacy of how black and Caribbean culture contributed and continues to contribute to this country’s culinary identity. Our people took scraps and the undesired and created delicacies. We created art from the ugly and cultivated nourishment from deprivation. That’s why weeks like this are so important; we must not only support our Caribbean restaurants but also preserve the rich cultural legacy that is our food.”