Caribbean Gourmet and Who’s Hungry Caribbean & Catering bring amazing dishes to the farmers’ market.
By Megan Reed
The Crenshaw Farmers’ Market provides some of the freshest fruits and vegetables, and tastiest health food in South Los Angeles. Besides the produce that comes from local farms, this weekly event, held at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, also features a foodcourt that has a variety of delicatessens.
“The food court has healthy and locally-prepared foods with an emphasis on delicious,” said Marie-Alise de Marco, manager of the farmers’ market. “At the Crenshaw Farmers' Market, we've worked hard at bringing really tasty, healthy and exciting cuisine to our food court. One of the great things about a city like Los Angeles is the fact that we have so many people from so many different places, which gives us access to so many types of cuisine.”
There are a lot of people who are from the Caribbean region in Los Angeles, and their food is well represented at the farmers’ market. Caribbean Gourmet and Who’s Hungry Caribbean & Catering bring island culture to this area with jerk chicken, curry dishes, meat patties, plantain, and pastries.
Yonette Alleyne, owner of Caribbean Gourmet, learned how to cook in her home land of Guyana, South America. She serves jerk chicken, chicken curry, vegan curry, and beef and turkey patties.
Alleyne also makes an assortment of Caribbean pastries, including currants rolls, cheese rolls, pineapple tarts, and plantain tarts.
While she is from Guyana, a number of Alleyne’s dishes come from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and other countries along the Caribbean Sea.
Delicious food is not the only thing that customers receive from Caribbean Gourmet. Caribbean hospitality is also included.
“We treat you like you’re in our home,” Alleyne said. “We love to feed people. We don’t ever skimp on stuff. If we give you a sample, we’ll give you a very generous serving for a sample.”
Alleyne takes great pride in feeding the public. That comes from her upbringing in Guyana.
“People in the Caribbean get a little offended if you go to their home and you don’t eat,” she said. “It’s a cultural thing.”
Stuart Eubanks, owner of Who’s Hungry Caribbean Catering, is also making amazing Caribbean food, but unlike Alleyne, he is not from that region.
Eubanks grew up in Los Angeles, near Crenshaw Blvd. and Jefferson Blvd. He started cooking at the age of 10, and he was classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. His professional career began as the banquet chef at Hotel Bel Air, and he has worked under “Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio at The Bazaar by Jose Andres, located at the Beverly Hills SLS Hotel.
“I was classically trained in French cuisine, but I’ve always enjoyed Caribbean food, pretty much since my teenage years,” he said.
Eubanks’ favorite restaurant when he was growing up was Coley’s in Inglewood, and he tried a number of other Caribbean restaurants in the city. His love for the various types of cuisines led him to create his version of Caribbean dishes, which are also influenced by the Southern food that he grew up on.
“I’m putting my influence to the Caribbean flavor,” he said. “I can’t really say it’s a mix of Southern food, because, besides the spices, a lot of the food is very similar. I just make a mix of the food that I grew up on.”
For more inspiration, Eubanks has traveled to Jamaica to taste the authentic dishes.
“My favorite dish while I was out in Jamaica was the brown stew chicken and the fritters,” he said. “I couldn’t stop eating for like six days. I was trying different versions of it at different shops.”
Jerk chicken is Eubanks’ most popular dish, and he also has ox tails, lamb, and vegan options. His customers enjoy the food that he cooks, especially people who are native to the Caribbean region.
“A lot of people who are from the islands say that the food is really good,” he said. “They notice that there is a difference, but they can tell that it is a dish from there. Like the curry goat that we sell. They try that and they’re like, ‘Oh wow; that’s really good.’”
Both Alleyne and Eubanks are at the Crenshaw Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Alleyne is also at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eubanks is at the Echo Park Farmers’ Market on Fridays from 3 p.m to 7:30 p.m. Both companies offer catering services.
In addition to serving great food, both Alleyne and Eubanks support local farmers.
“They source ingredients from the other farmers' markets they attend, so they support local food in their international dishes,” de Marco said. “I am grateful that these two talented cooks bring the regional differences of the Caribbean to our little corner of L.A.”
Contact Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA) for information on the Crenshaw Farmers' Market at (323) 463-3171. Visit their website at www.seela.org/markets-crenshaw/. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Looking to start a small business? Contact Pacific Coast Regional Small Business Development Corporation.