My chef profile continues with Chef Stacey Scantlebury. Chef Stacey will be a part of the Latin Food Fest 2018! She is a master of the Caribbean cuisine. We talked about the challenges of being a Caribbean-style catering company in LA. Plus how Chef Stacey Scantlbury came to love the art of cooking. She is always available for catering, and cooking demonstrations, and of course, she always delivers amazing taste!
Tell Me How You Got Started Cooking?
I started cooking at a very young age; the kitchen literally raised me. I love to eat so the kitchen or near the kitchen was the best place to be. My family was always having some kind of party so there was always traffic in the kitchen. I watched all the prepping, and all the cooking and took in all the smells. I became the official taste tester.
My first cooking experience came from baking with my mom. Every Saturday my mom would bake sweet bread and cakes. I always wanted to help so she would always give me my own bowl and she would add the ingredients one by one explaining all the steps I needed to complete before I could have the finished product. A mini chef was born.
I got the bug for cooking professionally by accident in high school. I had never thought about cooking as a profession prior to that. I was asked to participate in a potluck in class and I decided to bring in a cheesecake that I had made. Everyone loved it, especially my teacher. He began ordering them on a weekly basis and then so did my classmates and my other teachers. They nicknamed me the Keebler elf. Soon I branched out to brownies and other sweets.
Who Were The Biggest Influences on Your Culinary Style?
My family was and still is the biggest influence on my culinary style. The most important things I learned in the kitchen were from my Mom, Grandmother, and Aunts. Their philosophy was that food should taste good and look good. It doesn’t have to be fancy but at least let it be presentable.
In the culinary world, I would have to say Bobby Flay is the biggest influence on my culinary style. He uses tons of spices and peppers, something that is common in Caribbean Cuisine, and he does so unapologetically without hesitation and with plenty of confidence. I love his style.
Tell Me How Similar Caribbean Styles Are Similar to Latino Food?
Caribbean food is Latino food. The Caribbean is geographically located in Latin America. We all use similar ingredients in our dishes. I like to think of Latin America as the bedrock of fusion food. Latin American Cuisine (including the Caribbean) has its foundation in its earliest inhabitants such as the Natives (Aztec, Mayan, Arawak, Carib, etc), the African Slaves, and whomsoever colonized the region (France, Spain, Portugal, England, Dutch).
Ingredients such as peppers, various spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, chocolate), fruits (banana, plantain, mango), ground provisions (potato, cassava), and proteins (fish, pork, chicken) are used throughout the region in our cuisine.
What Are the Challenges of Running a Catering Business?
One challenge of running a catering business is thinking creatively. I specialize in Caribbean cuisine and in Los Angeles Caribbean food is not “popular” and a lot of the dishes are not “pretty” so it’s always a challenge for me to try and figure out how to present certain dishes in a new and fun way without taking away from the flavor. Another challenge is the long hours. Chef life is hard on your body physically and mentally. All those hours standing, and often in weird positions, put so much strain on your joints, and muscles. And the biggest challenge of all is time management. Caterers have to be super organized because time is of the essence. Food has to be prepped and ready on time. Loss of time equates to a loss of money and that’s a big no-no.
What Can People Expect When You Cook for Them?
When I cook for people they can expect to be whisked away to the Caribbean without having to take a flight. I bring the essence and all the essence of the Caribbean to the palate. Whenever I cook, expect flavor, sabor, sazon, saveur, grout; we are one Caribbean.
How Exciting Is It to Be Part of the Latin Food Fest?
It is very exciting. I love to feed people and in doing so I expose them to my culture. Participating in an event like this blesses me with that opportunity. I look forward to this event every year and almost always begin planning for the next one immediately.
What’s Your Favorite Part of the Event?
My favorite part of the event is interacting with the guests. I love feeding people; especially dishes that they would never have outside of the Caribbean.
What’s Your Favorite Thing to Cook?
My favorite thing to cook is flying fish. It’s part of the Barbadian National Dish, cou cou, and flying fish.
I like to stuff it with Bajan seasoning and fry it, or bake it, or stew it.
What’s Your Favorite Latino Dish to Cook?
Throughout the Caribbean, we eat Salt Fish, which is salted Cod Fish or Bacalao in Spanish. All the islands prepare it essentially the same; however, in Puerto Rico/Dominican Republic, they make a cold salad that is out of this world. The ingredients are salt fish, potato, boiled egg, onion, and this sweet and tangy vinaigrette. That hands down is my favorite Latino dish to make and eat.
How Can People Get a Hold of You for Catering Events?
As my website is still being designed, the best way to get in contact with me is by email. My email is email@example.com. You can also contact me via Instagram @Socachef or Facebook /Socachef
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