When you visit Trinidad and Tobago you'll be sure to indulge in local cuisine such as doubles; a breakfast delight, curry chicken and roti and I can't leave out one of my favorite foods bake 'n shark. In Trinidad, it’s as if every day is a feast. To enjoy the feasts of Trinidad, you must come with an open mind and an adventurous palate. From fine dining to street food, Trinidad’s varied local cuisine reflects the country’s multi-ethnic heritage, which includes African, Indian, Spanish, French, British, Chinese and Syrian-Lebanese traditions.
On my recent trip to Trinidad I had the pleasure of dining with Chef Dale Hamilton over specialty made sushi rolls and sriracha fries in the heart of Port of Spain at a restaurant called Roll. Chef Hamiton became Trinidad's youngest Executive Chef at the age of 26. Hamilton currently works in San Fernando Teaching Hospital as a nutrition and dietetics supervisor and has also cooked for President Obama where he prepared rib eye, arugula, mashed potatoes and broccoli. His passion for cooking started at the age of 5 when he fell in love with his grandmothers cooking. He spends much of his time in the kitchen experimenting with food and preparing his next big dish. He also makes chennet chutney which is one of my favorite Caribbean fruits and showed me photos of his culinary art. When asked what it takes to be a chef the culinary artist replied "Passion. You must have the desire to love what you do 110%. You can go to work and learn from a chef or go to a culinary arts school. When you learn from a chef you learn about the culture of food."
Hamilton spoke about the science of food and a trip he went on in Barbados to attend Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Festival where he met Chef Marcus Samuelsson. After his encounters with Samuelsson, Hamilton became more motivated and determined as a chef to showcase his work. When he returned to Trinidad he sold barbecue at a friends bar. With great confidence he told me he doesn't just make good barbecue, he makes EPIC barbecue! I think he and my father will need to have a cook-off so I can be the judge of that. In 2014 he opened a restaurant in Arima called 614 Grillhouse which had great significance to him. He spoke very highly of his nephew who was born with cancer and lost both of his eyes at the age of three. He always greeted Hamilton's customers and would enter the restaurant saying, "the CEO is here", referring to himself. Sadly his nephew ended up passing away following a chain of unfortunate events. Hamilton got his niche back into culinary arts through a group he founded dedicated to bringing unity amongst local chefs by the name of Underground Kitchen. It consist of like-minded chefs in Trinidad who share ideas about how to expand Trinidad and Tobago's culinary scene.
Chef Hamilton is currently working on his first book which is taking him through the rediscovery and discovery of local flavors. He is also the man behind Chef Ready which is a kitchen company that focuses on live culinary experiences. Chef Ready will be hosting live demonstrations on how to carve and stuff whole meats such as lamb, goat and chicken and also does catering services. One of the first things you will notice is that he is a very humble, selfless and passionate person. His desire to mentor youth who have a love for culinary arts and to make Trinidad and Tobago's cuisine known around the world is extraordinary. To learn more about his culinary work and future projects you can follow him on his social media pages: Facebook and Instagram.
If you are in Trinidad and Tobago or plan on visiting this month make sure to check out Trinidad Restaurant week September 16th - 25th.