Published 21 April 2021
Putting the spotlight on one of this year’s 100 most influential women in hospitality, this week we speak to the founder of Caribe Keshia Sakarah. She tells us how it felt to be included on the list, what she learnt from pop-ups and residences and her advice for those starting out.
It was a lovely surprise, such an honour to be named amongst so many other women in the food industry that I am inspired by and admire. Something I never expected for myself but I’m grateful.
It’s important because hospitality is somewhat male dominated but there have always been women doing amazing things. The world and industry are changing, there are more female founders, head chefs and business owners than before, so we must give credit where its due and recognise the great contributions from everyone.
Caribe is all about celebrating Caribbean eating from throughout the region. I really wanted to showcase more dishes that we enjoy as a culture and bring them into the mainstream a bit more such as roti, pelau and doubles. Although Caribbean and Biritsh culture have been shared for centuries, the real depths of our food is still somewhat unfamilar so I felt it was time to share a bit more about it.
I spend a lot of time researching ingredients, recipes and the history of the Caribbean to give myself context when recreating traditional recipes or developing new ones I then choose to share. This was such an organic yet eyopening process for me and by doing this I have learnt so much about my culture and it gives me confidence when I then showcase it for others.
It was fun but hard work! Daunting and exciting at the same time! Great to see new people taste and enjoy my food, my confidence in the kitchen grew as a result. To see a customer base forming and regular faces follow me from place to place was humbling. But, setting up in a new space every so often was a little anxious for me at times as you just don’t know what it is going to be like or how your food is going to be received. Either way, I’m grateful for the journey as it got me to where I am now.
Network as much as possible, connect with others in the industry who you’re inspired by and make your presence known. You can easily use social media to do this and build yourself a profile at the same time. Then when you’re ready to launch you already have a bit of a fan base. I didn’t do this to begin with and realise how important it is now in hindsight. Whatever your angle is, make sure you’re passionate about it as this will see you through no matter what else is going on.
It’s really humbling to see and hear other people’s experience of what I have presented to them and how they then interpret it, this review in particular meant a lot because I felt it really showcased the core purpose of what Caribe represents.
I’m a foodie, so it’s a space for me to cook dishes I enjoy and share them. Whilst I focus on how to cook dishes from throughout the Caribbean to show some of the similarities and differences of foods within the region. I also just like to cook dishes that are inspired by my travels and experiences which others can then try for themselves.
Getting to cook food, work with ingredients and share with others.
That would have to be Vietnamese Bahn mi – I absolutely love them!