or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › interested in west indian/haitian guadeloupe etc cooking
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

interested in west indian/haitian guadeloupe etc cooking

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Greetings,

 

I am not sure if this is the right place for this thread or not.  I am also not sure if I want to be a chef.  

 

I am 32... I myself am a religion and anthropology undergrad at FSU (Florida State University)... I have anywhere from three to five years left before graduation because I am taking things a bit slowly. I struggle with mental illness (schizophrenia and bipolar) which caused me to screw up my college career quite royally. So basically im a 32 year old man now and time has just gone by. Needless to say I feel like I missed the anthropology boat and am too dumb and stupid and old to succeed. My interests include african and caribbean literature (for example, kamau brathwaite, vs naipaul, george lamming, maryse conde, amos tutuola, wole soyinka, kojo laing, ben okri, syl cheney coker, derek walcott, wilson harris, earl lovelace and others like aime cesaire, frantz fanon, eric williams, clr james, ngugi wa thiongo and still others) as well as german philosophy like nietzsche, hegel, marx and other romantic idealists, karl jaspers, carl jung and most of the good anthropology like malinowski, victor turner, paul stoller, anne stoller, john k thornton, paul farmer, and dennis tedlock, james fernandez and marshall sahlins. I have a lot of scholars and novelists I aspire to study and grasp and apply to life somehow, I have not really figured it out yet, but the music of RAM, tabou combo, ella andall, david rudder and boukman eksperyeans and chalkdust convinced me to become interested in trinidad and haiti and now im stuck in lala land.

 

So I thought I wanted to finish school and get into grad school, be involved with african and caribbean studies somehow.

 

But this isnt a big field and there are not many jobs, its a pipe dream with a minimal chance of success, and Im already 32 so I feel I would rather do something that wont take so long (another 10 to 15 years) before I even have a shot at anything.

 

Dont get me wrong, knowledge is awesome and the world needs help from academics interested in the third world, but I myself am probably not that dude.  I dont feel smart enough and my mental illness has zapped years from my youth.

 

I love the cooking of Haiti and Trinidad, JAmaica, Cuba, Guyana, Mexico, West Africa, the Middle East MArtinique,and Guadeloupe. So I figured hey why not learn to work with my hands and try my shot at moving to one of those countries and cooking there.  Then if I was living in HAiti (a country with a 90 percent unemployment rate) well I could still have my Marx and Jung and Afro Caribbean Literature desires met when I am not working, and if I was there I could check out the local vodou scenes.

 

But this is a long shot I know, I have this fantastic cookbook "great chefs of the caribbean" that really gets mycreative juices going.

 

I know Bourdain says if you are 32 you are too late, but bourdain doesnt have the last word on his social darwinist take on things.  He is following false ideals in that letter that have helped to destroy the modern world.

 

Well enough about that.  What do YOU think?

post #2 of 20

If you move to a country with a 90% unemployment rate, how much competition do you think there would be for cooking jobs and what pay rate would you anticipate due the extreme number of unemployed people looking for work?

 

Also with a 90% unemployment rate, how many people have the money to be frequenting restaurants, or do imagine that restaurants survive on tourists and "haves"? How is the tourism business for a country with a 90% unemployment rate? How large of a "haves" base exists?

 

I have traveled fairly extensively in the Caribbean. I have even worked and lived there for a few years. My experiences have been in high and low tourists areas but generally overall, I have encountered low rates of unemployment and low pay because the people want to work, need to work, and are not afraid to work. Best bet is to be well plugged into the coconut telegraph, but that only happens with time spent on island. Very small, tight knit communities.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
post #3 of 20
Standard response is to get yourself washing dishes locally. Doesn't matter where. If you don't like ikitchens in Florida, you won't like them in the carribean.

How's your french and spanish?
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by chalkdust View Post
 

 So basically im a 32 year old man now and time has just gone by. Needless to say I feel like I missed the anthropology boat and am too dumb and stupid and old to succeed.

 

......................

 

I know Bourdain says if you are 32 you are too late, but bourdain doesnt have the last word on his social darwinist take on things.  He is following false ideals in that letter that have helped to destroy the modern world.

 

Well enough about that.  What do YOU think?

first of all being humble can be good, but don't put yourself down, many people have made fortunes at young age and lost it again years later, the same as many have started slowly and eventually made a success from a great idea.

 

as for Bourdains belief that at 32 your too old, bah humbug!

 

ive seen folks that are not chefs, but are accountants etc and have opened their own restaurants and within a year or two have shot to fame just by having a great taste that suits a market.

 

its the pigeon hole conformity that traps us, and if Bourdain truly believes what you have said then my response is why is it that he is not a billionaire, or why does he not have a chain of 3 michelin star restaurants each and every year for many years, if that is the measure of success.

 

success is the journey, not the destination, so forget about the pigeon holes that some folks like to use and follow your own goals, aspirations and dreams.

 

with constructive effort you have a much better chance at achieving what you want than following others prescribes ideas.

 

that's not to say that others have nothing of value to say, just that you will do better to learn from others and take from that information what will suit you in your adventure of life.

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 

First of all want to say sorry for such a late reply. You all have given me something to think about.  I am still very passionate and dare i say talented as a home chef.  I am ready to commit to this world of the culinary arts and believe that for me I have both a lot of passion and a little talent that could be honed in the right places.  My problem is I have other interests besides cooking. I want to travel to Haiti and initiate into vodun... I want to travel to Haiti and init I like the psychology of Carl Jung, Anthropology, Post Colonial Theory and African and Caribbean lit.  Im just not talented enough in academia all though it is true maybe I have not given it enough time.  Still, at 33,  I need to make a better living. and not put off making that living for that 15 years a phd would take.

 

here is what I have been telling/asking people...:

 

tradewise i have an idea that would make me very happy as far as i can tell. that is cooking particularly west indian, latin, south american, mexican middle eastern or african. the hardest one to learn a bit about is african, but i know a fair amount about the rest. i aust not sure how it would benefit haiti, but maybe i will figure something out. if i stay active in my reading i can surely benefit haiti somehow as an advocate, that goes for the rest of the world too. i am unsure if cooking in haiti would be possible although there is a tourism industry and my friend in haiti is very optimistic. i know cooking isnt your expertise but it gets my senses heightened and my creative juices flowing. i only have one worry. i have a massive reading list of academic type stuff. while i love the idea of reading at my own leisure and not worrying about the pressure of the academic lifestyle, i am unsure if i would still have enough time to read it all. sort of a self righteous thing to say or something. well. i am on some new meds and they are working great. also off somemeds that were zapping my energy. thanks for talking with me.

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post
 

If you move to a country with a 90% unemployment rate, how much competition do you think there would be for cooking jobs and what pay rate would you anticipate due the extreme number of unemployed people looking for work?

 

Also with a 90% unemployment rate, how many people have the money to be frequenting restaurants, or do imagine that restaurants survive on tourists and "haves"? How is the tourism business for a country with a 90% unemployment rate? How large of a "haves" base exists?

 

I have traveled fairly extensively in the Caribbean. I have even worked and lived there for a few years. My experiences have been in high and low tourists areas but generally overall, I have encountered low rates of unemployment and low pay because the people want to work, need to work, and are not afraid to work. Best bet is to be well plugged into the coconut telegraph, but that only happens with time spent on island. Very small, tight knit communities.

 

 

I see and very interesting.  Did you work in Trinidad?  Were you cooking trini food?

post #7 of 20

Never worked in Trinidad. Have worked with trinis, both in the Caribbean and the States. Also went to culinary school with a trini.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
post #8 of 20

If you ever do plan on going to Trinidad, let me know and I'll see if I can hook a brother up. My cousin should be able to point you in the right direction.

Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

Reply

Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

Reply
post #9 of 20

My wife is a Trini...the food culture is mindblowing.  

 

I'm a Southern redneck who loves food (all food)...she's a Trinidadian who also loves food...we mesh well, share the foods we grew up around, and enjoy most any international cuisine we come across.

 

What I'd do for a couple doubles & aloo pie for breakfast tomorrow morning...

 

Apprentichef, where is your cousin from?  What village/town?

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apprentichef View Post
 

If you ever do plan on going to Trinidad, let me know and I'll see if I can hook a brother up. My cousin should be able to point you in the right direction.

one day. and much thanks

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Lancaster View Post
 

My wife is a Trini...the food culture is mindblowing.  

 

I'm a Southern redneck who loves food (all food)...she's a Trinidadian who also loves food...we mesh well, share the foods we grew up around, and enjoy most any international cuisine we come across.

 

What I'd do for a couple doubles & aloo pie for breakfast tomorrow morning...

 

Apprentichef, where is your cousin from?  What village/town?

I have come close to marrying a trini in the past, would have been nice.  Lucky you.  Maybe I can still get to uwi and study there and date trinis there haha. I agree about the food culture, and the music culture, where I pulled my screen name from is superb!

post #12 of 20
Ok read some more, are you a us citizen?? Have you lived in the Caribbean before? Have you been to Trinidad before?? There is much better places to work in the Caribbean, also how are you going to get a work permet? Spent the last 10 years working in the Caribbean and its not a Corona commercial. The power is out multiple times a week, you get water from a cistern so no rain, no water. You can have some serious real crime where there is no 911 to call, everything takes forever, if it doesn't make sense, it makes since. Get a decent hurricane, no water, power, internet for weeks or months, ect. But there is awesome things if you can learn to adapt. Everything is slower, if your late nobody gives a shit because everybody is late. Before cell phones there would be arguements over what day of the week it was. You can crack open a beer at 9 am and no one looks at you funny because they have already haad 2. You can drink and drive. Fishing, surfing, diving, kiteboarding is unbealiveble. That's why I lived there. Every now and then would meet someone who doesn't like the beach or ocean and ask them why the fuck do you live hear. Best thing if your mentally unstable you fit right in, you meet some crazy people in the Caribbean with unbealiveable stories. PM me if you are serious about living down there for advice. I have worked on land and yachts there for 10 years aand have probablly been to at least 80 % of the islands. Good luck, also, don't worry about being 32 and doing something different, the USA, has a good way of discourging people not to take any chances with life and play everything safe only to be unhappy. Packed up what little I owned and moved to St. Thomas in 2005. Best decision I ever made. The funniest thing I would meet lots of tourists and they would always ask the same question?? "How did you move here??" Always the same simple answer " I made a decision!" Cheers and good luck
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

hey man... have you been to haiti? trinidad? barbados?

post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hookedcook View Post

Ok read some more, are you a us citizen?? Have you lived in the Caribbean before? Have you been to Trinidad before?? There is much better places to work in the Caribbean, also how are you going to get a work permet? Spent the last 10 years working in the Caribbean and its not a Corona commercial. The power is out multiple times a week, you get water from a cistern so no rain, no water. You can have some serious real crime where there is no 911 to call, everything takes forever, if it doesn't make sense, it makes since. Get a decent hurricane, no water, power, internet for weeks or months, ect. But there is awesome things if you can learn to adapt. Everything is slower, if your late nobody gives a shit because everybody is late. Before cell phones there would be arguements over what day of the week it was. You can crack open a beer at 9 am and no one looks at you funny because they have already haad 2. You can drink and drive. Fishing, surfing, diving, kiteboarding is unbealiveble. That's why I lived there. Every now and then would meet someone who doesn't like the beach or ocean and ask them why the fuck do you live hear. Best thing if your mentally unstable you fit right in, you meet some crazy people in the Caribbean with unbealiveable stories. PM me if you are serious about living down there for advice. I have worked on land and yachts there for 10 years aand have probablly been to at least 80 % of the islands. Good luck, also, don't worry about being 32 and doing something different, the USA, has a good way of discourging people not to take any chances with life and play everything safe only to be unhappy. Packed up what little I owned and moved to St. Thomas in 2005. Best decision I ever made. The funniest thing I would meet lots of tourists and they would always ask the same question?? "How did you move here??" Always the same simple answer " I made a decision!" Cheers and good luck

thank you will pm you but just to gather info, i have to work first, finish school etc. i do want to live there one day.  I am good friends with a chinese trini who lives in ft lauderdale and commutes in miami, we talk about the caribbean all the time.  His cousin lives in curacao, used to own a brothel, now owns a restaraunt. speaks two or three dialects of chinese, spanish, dutch and papamiento as well as english.  I would really like to learn creole.  I am not sure what the best path to walk is, they teach it at UF TULANE and DUKE, and I am already in school for african and caribbean studies, but my grades arent that great due to younger issues with mental health and lack of discipline.

post #15 of 20

I'll start with this one first and try to be nice.  Yes I lived and worked in Trinidad but was working on a foreign flagged sailboat based out of Chaguaramas.  It's a cool, BIG island. Beautiful girls, since you like history there is a lot of East Indian/ Chinese influence from the slave days.  Brought a beautiful girl back to Florida with me but turns out she was crazier than I am so that ended.  Yes was in Barbados last year. Beautiful civilized island.  Its out the so they kind of just do there own thing.  Much safer than Trinidad. 

 

Haiti, lets talk about Haiti.  I grew up cooking in South Florida.  All of the dishwashers and a lot of line cooks are Haitian.  Super nice hard working friendly people.  Had a good Haitian friend that would wash dishes at the restaurant from 4pm-2 am.  He worked at a landscaping business from 5am-2pm.  When we were slow he used to have a little spot in the bushes in the back of the restaurant where we would let him sleep and wake him up when it was time.  He would come in bust everything out and do the work of 2 men.  I grew up surfing in the 90s when Haiti really got bad,  kind of makes you think when you see rafts wash up with nobody on them

 

As for Haiti, never been, and never will go.  I was actually in the D.R. when the earthquake hit.  It was a sketchy couple of days because all the Dominicans were terrified of the Haitians  trying to cross the boarder and ruin their country like they ruined their own. 7-10 billion dollars later and 7 years later there is absolutely nothing to show for it.  Still living in tents still having outbreaks like Cholera which only places like Africa still even exhist.  It makes Cuba look like Monte Carlo.

 

Haiti still remains the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.  They have literally cut down 98% of the trees on the island.  Crazy when you see the satellite picture next to the D.R.  They have and will always have that if I can make a dollar today for myself and not think about tomorrow, the future, my kids future they take it and always will.  Same as the poachers in Africa and most of Africa village mentality for that matter   How can you pump 10 billion dollars of relief on a small portion of an island and it still remain a shithole??  Granted some of its not the Haitians people fault.  Most of that money never actually made it to the people but lets not get into politics. 

 

And now the Hurricane, more money, more donations.  Guarantee you in 10/20/50 years the place is still a shithole.  In the end of the day the share the island of Hispaniola with the D.R.,  the D.R. has some how managed to be successful, use their natural resources, think of the future, provide tourism and promote eco tourism, grow their own food, export food and other goods.  Haiti does nothing but not work, rape their own land, rob their own people and any tourist.  My Haitian friends when they go home,  all jewelry off, no nice clothes, blend in with the rest of the poor people

 

So you have read books and like the Caribbean???   You wouldn't last 5 minutes walking in Port-au-Prince, Nassau, Port of Spain, Kingston, ect..  Still haven't figured out if you have ever left the USA?  If you like Creole and want to learn it and a little culture start in New Orleans.  It's a cool town, great food,  closest you will get to the Caribbean besides Miami but I don't suppose you know Spanish?

 

From the sounds of things maybe your best bet is the put on a parachute on go to Africa and jump out over the Congo, you will learn about real world history real fast.  If that doesn't work there always Somalia, Venezuela, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea or any other cool places in the world that sounds like fun!

 

Also, how about that work Permit/Visa, It's the little details that make a difference

 

No hard feelings, just trying to let you not make a mistake without thinking it through

post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 

so did you make it in port of spain, nassau, kingston, etc?

 

what is your secret?

 

yes i read caribbean and african literature, i am an expert on it actually. i am also an expert on key caribbean and african thinkers poets intellectuals etc.  barbados has some of my favorite writers

 

yeah culturally i am a middle class half european half american, not too street smart. but have many black friends and caribbean friends.  i have evolving views on haiti and the "african mentality" but i just stick to my books. i am no professor

 

somalia has great writer too

 

todays homework is to grab a copy of the following three books... paul farmer: the uses of haiti.  walter rodney" how europe underdeveloped africa, cheik anta diop: pre colonial black africa

 

cheers


Edited by chalkdust - 11/5/16 at 5:06pm
post #17 of 20

I lived in Nassau for years, that's where my last job was,  been to Port of Spain only in the daytime, never been to Kingston.  It was listed as the highest per capita murder rate in the world

Believe me this is not about me acting tough in anyway.  Every place I have lived or been to in the Caribbean there are just certain places if you are smart you just don't go.  Especially late at night, but that's the rest of the worlds cities too.  I'm taking a long Vacation and just spent the last 2 months in Mexico and now and in Peru, going to Rio next.  The Caribbean or the rest of the world for that matter is mostly just common sense to stay out of trouble.

 

Street smarts is how you survive, the Caribbean is real shit.  For instance,  I hired a line cook from the states to come to St. Thomas because its hard to find good help there locally for fine dining.  Guy was about 20 and never had left the states.  First thing I told him, be careful here, it's not the USA, real shit happens and forget about 911.  His answer to me  " I can take care of my self, I played high school football"!  About 3 days later I wake up to this message on my phone " I'm lost, don't know where , I am, help me."  My phone number was the only one he had.  He went out drinking alone, got picked up by a gypsy cab at 3 am.  The driver took him to a remote part of the island without him realizing it.  Long story short "get out of the car and give me everything you have"  Taxi driver picks up a big rock and beat the shit out of him stole everything but his phone and left him for dead.  He survived only later to pour mineral oil in another of my line cooks drink trying to poison her, then he got the shit beat out of him again and left the island.

 

I've had US Marshals come into my restaurant and take away my dishwasher during dinner service over a warrant of attempted murder and armed robbery charges.  Have had multiple friends robbed with guns to there head.  Knew someone kidnapped and held ransom for 4 days, people bound and gagged washing up on the beach,  the was the guy that raped a girl, locals caught him before the police did, cut off his "you know what" and hung him from a tree the list goes on..  It's the real deal.  One of the few places where you hope you get caught by the police first.

 

There is a difference between studying a culture and living in a culture

 

I love the Caribbean, I coose to work and live the for one bad example there are 5 good ones for me.  This isn't to scare you, Once again.  HAVE YOU EVER LEFT THE UNITED STATES?

post #18 of 20

Some very good points have been raised by Hookedcook.

 

The Caribbean.  The "real world" can't be further than what you experience as a tourist who may stay within the walls of a resort for 5 days.  It's not all sh!ts & giggles out there.  

 

Also, Trinidad is not the place to go if you're looking for a postcard picture of the Caribbean.  Trinidad hasw oil and could care less, for the most part, about tourist dollars.  Also, customer service is laughable.  Tobago is the tourist hotspot for T&T, but Trinidad not so much.  When we're there we may dress nice like we do at home when we go out, but try not to wear too much jewelry (or any at all).  Trini's may be wearing it, but you'll be spotted and the right people will know you aren't from there.  Trust me...I've experienced it.  Had to lose a couple of guys one day who were hot on our tails following us into every store we went in.  They were clearly biding their time.

 

It's not all hibiscus and palm trees out there.

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hookedcook View Post
 

I lived in Nassau for years, that's where my last job was,  been to Port of Spain only in the daytime, never been to Kingston.  It was listed as the highest per capita murder rate in the world

Believe me this is not about me acting tough in anyway.  Every place I have lived or been to in the Caribbean there are just certain places if you are smart you just don't go.  Especially late at night, but that's the rest of the worlds cities too.  I'm taking a long Vacation and just spent the last 2 months in Mexico and now and in Peru, going to Rio next.  The Caribbean or the rest of the world for that matter is mostly just common sense to stay out of trouble.

 

Street smarts is how you survive, the Caribbean is real shit.  For instance,  I hired a line cook from the states to come to St. Thomas because its hard to find good help there locally for fine dining.  Guy was about 20 and never had left the states.  First thing I told him, be careful here, it's not the USA, real shit happens and forget about 911.  His answer to me  " I can take care of my self, I played high school football"!  About 3 days later I wake up to this message on my phone " I'm lost, don't know where , I am, help me."  My phone number was the only one he had.  He went out drinking alone, got picked up by a gypsy cab at 3 am.  The driver took him to a remote part of the island without him realizing it.  Long story short "get out of the car and give me everything you have"  Taxi driver picks up a big rock and beat the shit out of him stole everything but his phone and left him for dead.  He survived only later to pour mineral oil in another of my line cooks drink trying to poison her, then he got the shit beat out of him again and left the island.

 

I've had US Marshals come into my restaurant and take away my dishwasher during dinner service over a warrant of attempted murder and armed robbery charges.  Have had multiple friends robbed with guns to there head.  Knew someone kidnapped and held ransom for 4 days, people bound and gagged washing up on the beach,  the was the guy that raped a girl, locals caught him before the police did, cut off his "you know what" and hung him from a tree the list goes on..  It's the real deal.  One of the few places where you hope you get caught by the police first.

 

There is a difference between studying a culture and living in a culture

 

I love the Caribbean, I coose to work and live the for one bad example there are 5 good ones for me.  This isn't to scare you, Once again.  HAVE YOU EVER LEFT THE UNITED STATES?

i have been to the yucatan peninsula, to berlin and to munich and a few other german and austrian cities...  Thanks for the heads up, I know from the literature that things like this happen to a certain extent, but I never really worried about it.  So how do you stay safe?  And no  I dont speak spanish and I really regret it as I love cubans and mexicans, guatemalans etc.

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Lancaster View Post
 

Some very good points have been raised by Hookedcook.

 

The Caribbean.  The "real world" can't be further than what you experience as a tourist who may stay within the walls of a resort for 5 days.  It's not all sh!ts & giggles out there.  

 

Also, Trinidad is not the place to go if you're looking for a postcard picture of the Caribbean.  Trinidad hasw oil and could care less, for the most part, about tourist dollars.  Also, customer service is laughable.  Tobago is the tourist hotspot for T&T, but Trinidad not so much.  When we're there we may dress nice like we do at home when we go out, but try not to wear too much jewelry (or any at all).  Trini's may be wearing it, but you'll be spotted and the right people will know you aren't from there.  Trust me...I've experienced it.  Had to lose a couple of guys one day who were hot on our tails following us into every store we went in.  They were clearly biding their time.

 

It's not all hibiscus and palm trees out there.

I know that.  Lots of slums and shanty towns and favela type conditions.  I wanted the real caribbean, the real people and the real experience.  Whatever that may say about my privilege,, sense of romance and naivete. 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › interested in west indian/haitian guadeloupe etc cooking