How Chefs From St.Martin Brought'The Melting Pot Of The Caribbean' To ESSENCE Fest

St.Martin natives Chef Kareem Brooks and Chef Kénila Hyman gave a culinary demonstration during the first-ever ESSENCE Eats Food And Wine Festival at the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture.

The chefs taught participants how to make a few tasty staple dishes from the Caribbean island, including traditional favorites like dumplings with crab, johnny cakes (or journey cakes) and saltfish. Those in attendance also got to taste these dishes that so many enjoy from the island that’s known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. 

For Chef Brooks, it was a unique opportunity to highlight some dishes from his beloved island and connect people with the island’s culture through food.

“It’s a surreal experience…Being here is like a great mix, a blend of Black joy from around the world and we get to share that with many people through our food. That’s amazing to me,” he said. 

Chef Brooks, also known as Chef B, is the founder of “Chef B’s Cooking Services and has cooked for celebrities such as Davido, Apryl Jones and Sidra Smith who hosted the segment and served as the chief taste tester. 

Chef Hyman is the owner and head chef of Heritage Kitchen, a company based on her family’s legacy that aims to highlight Saint-Martin’s culture through culinary art. 

For her, being able to showcase some of the island’s culinary offerings is simply a vehicle through which the diaspora can connect and she is proud to be a part of that. 

 “It’s definitely a great honor for us,” she said. “The Caribbean has such rich cultures. And St. Martin, we are a melting pot of the Caribbean with a lot to offer, so I do believe that we deserve to be here and represent,” she said.

St.Martin will host its second annual Gastronomy Festival this November. The global food festival is described as being a foodie’s paradise.

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