With only two days left until Simmer Down Festival takes Handsworth Park by storm; our resident blogger Ashlee E L Roberts interviewed local food restaurants to gain their view on Caribbean food, The Crucial Sauce Company and how Simmer Down has revived Caribbean cultural celebration in Birmingham!
Location: Perry Barr, Birmingham
Summary: By the culture, for the people.
“We started nine years ago in Digbeth and then we moved to Perry Barr. We started our restaurant out of the love for Jamaican food. It just brings the vibes and the flavour to every dish. We try to bring the best of our home country into our food because we aim to please.”
“We try our best to have service with a smile. We get loads of comments and compliments about our customer service”
“It’s so good to see our culture being promoted – everyone else has a way of expression, Vaisakhi, Eid celebrations – since carnival has gone, we don’t really have nothing left but so we’re really pleased to see Simmer Down return – especially if they’re partnered with The Crucial Sauce Company- do you know how long we’ve been using their sauces? It’s incredible!”
Location: Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham
Summary: Jamaican cuisine styled in sophistication
“Food is the life and soul of the human being. It’s very important because it is going inside of you. Personally, it’s not something I take lightly. I’m going to be consuming something that will not just affect my physical but mental wellbeing. I operate my business on the same moral principal. The service that we offer has to be one based on trust and on ease. It means a lot to me”
“Caribbean food means so much to me. I’m from Jamaica and I have been brought up on Caribbean food my whole life. We love to experiment which leads to a range of diverse choices within our dishes. It’s exciting – to see someone eating a meal and they’re over the moon at how good it was; it makes my day. It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s not about the money for me, it’s about the customer satisfaction that gives me all the joy in the world”
“Our dishes are quite different from the rest of the Caribbean islands. I’m not as adept as id like to be on their foods but I do know a bit about Bajan foods. There is a lot of flavoursome fish dishes in their diets and there’s even a difference in our terminology for certain foods. For example, we call it fritters, they call it fish cake. Same dish just different ways of identifying with it. But in all, the Caribbean has so much to offer with their cuisine it’s a beautiful thing.”
“In terms in our restaurant, we get all walks of life walking through here, but what is really nice to see black indigenous people making up a large amount of our customer base. I was pleasantly surprised because it gets rid of the stereotype that “black people don’t support their own” . That’s not the case. If you have the right product then people will come out and support. It fills my heart to see a couple sitting down serenading each other over my food and a nice bottle of wine. They didn’t have to go into town for this experience.”
“We keep it authentic. You don’t have to go mainstream and lose your original flavour. We may not be on the same magnitude as Turtle Bay but we still stew, jerk, curry – its authentic, there’s no boiling here (laughs) we keep it real, always.”
“Simmer Down sounds like a really community based festival. A lot of local businesses are getting involved which is great for networking.”
“Future dreams for my Caribbean stamp on Birmingham? Expansion. It would be nice to see one of my shops on every corner. There’s a need for some on the high street for Jamaican food to be represented. It would be nice to see our food being viewed as more than just a take-away. It can be served outside of a polystyrene box and cling film.”
“Its always good to see The Crucial Sauce Company involved in Simmer Down. Being recognised by so many people as a thriving local business is a great thing to maximise visibility at such a community orientated event. Plus my sister works there too, she loves it! It’s proof they’re serving the midlands community.”
Written by Ashlee E L Roberts
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