26 Upton Ln, Forest Gate, E. London E7 9LN
Coming to East London from Jamaica in the 1960s, Mr. Wentworth — otherwise known as Wenty — quickly became known in the area as a door-to-door salesman of sugar cane. It was then only a matter of time before he moved up to a bricks-and-mortar premises, opening Wenty’s Tropical Foods in 1989. For many in the area, this was first place to get fresh produce like yams, jackfruits, green banana and plantain.
While major supermarkets in places like East London lagged behind in supplying food for ethnic communities — or relegated them to the rear of the shop in “Rest of the World” sections — these Caribbean staples were proudly displayed front and center at Wenty’s store. “There are the brands that people are familiar with from back home – that’s why they always come back here,” suggests Wenty.
The shop used to have a hotplate out front for selling dumplings, fritters and patties. Eventually they decided to refurbish the space round the back of the shop into a restaurant, as the hot food became more popular.
Whilst the space round the back is discrete in appearance, it quickly became a frequent stop for locals in the know, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every dish under the Caribbean sun is made fresh with Wenty’s own produce rarely survive the day especially when washed down with a ginger or Guinness punch made on the same day.