Trio opens Caribbean restaurant with Jamaican, slow and Brooklyn Swag recipes

What makes Caribbean cuisine “authentic”?

According to the trio behind San Jose’s newest restaurant, it has an atmosphere. “Think of Caribbean cuisine as equal parts to resilience, history, tradition and of course spices,” read their Instagram page. “This is how our people show love.”

Introducing this culture to a wide audience is the mission of Island Taste Caribbean Grill, which opened on Saturday in the heart of the city center, opposite the City Hall. This new place comes courtesy of Dorian and Mark St. Fleur, who are immigrant children (her family comes from Jamaica and his from Haiti), and head chef Imani Manning, a Jamaican native who had previously learned to cook at her mother’s Kingston restaurant. Starting a professional career in New York.

For the couple St. Fleurs had no intention of moving from their human resources and real estate careers to this cultural and culinary venture when they moved to San Jose. But they found the description “islands” does not mean for West Coast residents what it means for East Coast. In fact, they were surprised to find many They had never been to Jamaica, or the Caribbean, for that matter.and the cuisine of the West Indies was much harder to obtain here than in New York.

Within the plague, these cognitions sprouted into the idea. We were eager to hear their story from the Brooklyn to the Bay Area:

The dumb chicken tunnel at Island Taste Caribbean Grill in San Jose is named Bolt, after legendary Jamaican track star Usain Bolt. Chicken wings are available as well. (Image by Corey Butkin / WDS Visuals for Island Taste)

Q: How was the restaurant idea created?

Dorian: We first moved here with our daughter in 2019, when I started a role at Google in performing diversity, capital, generalization strategy. Just as we reached the furrow of life in the Gulf region, the plague struck. We found ourselves isolated in our home, thousands of miles away from all our friends and family. During that time my husband started teaching himself how to cook traditional Caribbean dishes by watching videos on YouTube. His goal was to make us feel less isolated and homesick. We loved what we built here, but it’s very different from our life in Brooklyn.

One day, he had a brilliant idea that we should open our own restaurant and bring a taste of the islands, along with our swag in Brooklyn, to the bay. The only problem: we are not chefs.

Island Taste Caribbean Grill is located on East Santa Clara Street between the fifth and sixth streets of downtown San Jose. (Dai Sugano News Group / Bay Area)

Q: So the third Brooklyn pawn to go west?

Dorian: Yes, so Mark offered his idea to a friend from New York who was a chef – Manning’s coach – and she immediately got on board.

Q: Master, what’s your philosophy as a chef?

Trainer: My passion is to tell stories through food, to use food to educate. Each dish has a plot line. I want to push this culture out. I’m not even considering myself a magician. I create. The kitchen is an empty canvas.

Q: What’s on the menu?

Mark: Our menu features authentic dishes made from scratch from Jamaica and Haiti, along with flavors from across the Caribbean. All dishes have a name that means something special to us. For example, our chicken dish is called “Bolt”, named after the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, who was born and raised on the island of Jamaica.

Q: How is Haitian cuisine different from Jamaica’s?

Mark: While both Jamaican and Haitian dishes include a mix of styles and spices from West Africa, native Taino residents, Spain and France, the taste profile of each country’s cuisine is pretty clear. Most Haitian dishes start with a green spice base called “apis” (meaning “spices” in slow Creole) which includes coriander, onion and thyme. Jamaican dishes, on the other hand, usually include base spices like green onions, ginger and pimento. Both Jamaica and Haiti, as well as the rest of the islands across the Caribbean, cook dishes that include rice, meat and vegetables, but what sets each country’s cuisine apart is the way local spices and preparation methods are combined.

Island posters on the wall inside Island Taste Caribbean Grill in San Jose. (Dai Sugano News Group / Bay Area)

Q: What are the distinctly slow dishes on your menu?

Trainer: Our menu currently includes two dishes. The first is called “1804”, which pays homage to the year in which Haiti became the first independent black republic in the Caribbean, when it fought successfully for its freedom from the colonial rule of France. The dish includes fried goat meat (called “tasso” in slow Creole) and black rice (“Dion Dion Dion”). The other is called “Bang Bang”, after a popular song in Haiti, which includes fried pork (“Griyo”) and white rice with black beans (“Diri Kole Ak Pwa”).

Q: If someone is opposed to spices, what is a good choice?

Trainer: While all of our dishes include a rich combination of herbs and spices, that does not mean they are all spicy. I think this is the biggest misconception about Caribbean food. However, if someone is uncomfortable with too much heat, he can try our vegan rasta pasta, oxtail or Eskovich whole red snapper fish. The really spicy item on our menu is the boob chicken.

Leave a Comment