14. Caribbean Cuisine Expanded its Reach
This year saw the Caribbean make significant inroads into the broader culinary world, on a number of fronts. Among the factors catapulting island food to greater recognition in 2015 were the growing trend towards agri-tourism in the Caribbean (such as the opening of Bellemont Farm in St. Kitts), and the emergence of artisanal food curators and food festivals specializing in Caribbean flavors, in the region and abroad in the U.S and Europe. And there was a major boom in Caribbean casual dining, as noted in the “New Caribbean Food Movement” feature published in the New York Times, with chefs of Caribbean descent bringing new attention to the Caribbean restaurant experience. Among them were Nina Compton of Top Chef fame, named Chef of the Year in New Orleans by Eater, for her newly-opened restaurant there, Compère Lapin. (See her curry goat and plantain gnocchi above). Another Top Chef regular, Marcus Samuelsson — who, though not Caribbean himself has been very vocal about his admiration of West Indian flavors recently – opened the Caribbean-accented Marcus’ at the Hamilton Princess hotel in Bermuda.
Across the Atlantic in London, Levi Roots (known for his Reggae Sauce, sold in English supermarkets) opened the Levi Roots Caribbean Smokehouse in Westfield’s Stratford City Mall, one of Europe’s largest urban shopping centers. We also saw chefs of island descent getting their share of airtime on some of the most popular cooking channels and programs. We certainly do not see this pace slowing down in 2016, but Caribbean cuisine becoming more celebrated for years to come. —Nneka Nurse