Bajan food to go
Dr Terrence Harewood is living proof that you can practise what you preach.
The former Barbadian athlete, better known as Terry or “Grover”, is Professor of Multicultural Education at the University of Indianapolis in Indiana, United States.
It is a position that sees this proud “ambassador for Barbados and the Caribbean” “teaching people about culture and about cultural differences”“.
Harewood is so engrossed in his work that each semester he invites students to “bring a meal which represents their cultural heritage” and he does likewise.
“I bring chicken feet soup, for the schock factor but also to talk about how this was relevant for countries that had to use what they had basically to create delicacies. So they get a kick out of that,” he said with a laugh.
But the Coleridge & Parry old scholar has taken his cultural journey a step further, opening a food truck business to share “authentic” Bajan and Caribbean cuisine with American patrons.
That business – T Baby’s – has been using a food trailer constructed in the style of a Bajan chattel house. As of last Thursday this was complemented by a food truck, also designed in that fashion.
“I have always enjoyed cooking and sharing Caribbean delicacies with my friends and family and I have been doing it for free for years. I worked a couple of years managing a restaurant and long had the idea of probably starting a restaurant called Taste Of The Caribbean that would be designed to offer a more inclusive prospective of Caribbean food because typically a lot of the restaurants up here that claim to be Caribbean are primarily Jamaican,” he told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY during a telephone interview.
“So a lot of the things that we in the Eastern Caribbean are used to they don’t necessarily offer. So I wanted this to include some of the Jamaican food, but also some of the stuff that they have in Trinidad and Barbados, so that patrons can see that the Caribbean is actually more than Jamaica.”
He added: “I wanted to design it in a way that represents something authentic about the Caribbean because a lot of the Caribbean restaurants up here are run by Americans or people might have got some stuff from recipe books but are not necessarily familiar with Caribbean processes or Caribbean tastes so a lot of times it is not authentic from my perspective.”
T Baby’s currently has a team of about six. The food is cooked by Harewood and his mother Euline Callender. His wife Tafrica is also involved, as are two individuals from St. Kitts. The licensed food business typically operates on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. With Harewood and his wife’s name starting with T, and his daughters Taraji, six, Tali, two, and baby Tajia due on November 24, coming up with the name T Baby’s was easy.
“We go to various locations. Right now we go to a lot of businesses. We will arrange to come to a business at a particular time and they will email employees and tell them ‘hey, we have got this food truck coming’. We also visit some breweries, micro brewing is really big here now so a lot of local places make their own beer and often they don’t sell food so we go and people drink their beer and eat our food. We also do festivals,” Harewood explained.
So far, people in Indianapolis can’t get enough of T Baby’s, as the fledging businessman noted that “people absolutely love the food”, especially macaroni pie, followed by jerked chicken, fish cakes, creole fish, and patties.
“We get really good comments on the taste of everything and we have got people calling us when we are not operational, asking us if we have got any food at home. I have got a young lady from Florida, she tasted it when she was here, and she wants me to prepare some food and mail it to her in Florida,” he said.
Having had a taste of what the American food truck business has to offer, Harewood is already thinking about expansion. The T Baby’s team is “really looking forward to next spring when the food truck season begins so we can come even bigger and better”. He is also looking to expand the team of six in the next three months, and might have “T Baby’s one and T Baby’s two” utilising the trailer and truck, starting in the spring.
“My vision is for expansion to have T Baby’s maybe in Cincinnati, maybe New York, and given the response to this macaroni pie, we have got to see if we can get it into some grocery stores at some point too. We hope to also do a lot of catering, especially for the holidays, to provide people with that alternative to the traditional turkey and whatever else that they have here,” he said.
“I have always been an ambassador for Barbados and the Caribbean, so this is just an extension of sharing, and hopefully from here we will get some people going directly to Barbados and boosting the tourist industry.”