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Raw talent


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

Raw talent

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DIANDRA LOWE HAS a passion for cooking that goes beyond blending herbs and spices to make a delicious meal.

“It brings joy to me knowing that customers like my food,” she told EASY magazine. “When I cook I like to make people happy and that is the most satisfying part about what I do.”

Diandra grew up hearing her grandmother saying, “When people eat food they are happy” and she adopted this as her motto. She said food has a way of bringing people together regardless of their social background and it has the power of connecting them in special ways. That is why she prefers to make her sauces and own special seasoning from scratch.

Diandra admitted to EASY that she needed help in realising her true potential, but once her talent became clear, nothing could stop her from perfecting it. Today the 24-year-old is the proud owner of D D’s Catering.

“I was not always what people refer to as academic,” she said. “So when I did food and nutrition classes at Lester Vaughan I excelled in that and my teacher encouraged me to enter the Junior Duelling Challenge and from there my love for cooking blossomed.

“Then I trained at the Barbados Vocational Training Board and my teacher there, Steve Phillips, encouraged me to enter another competition – World Skills Barbados. Then I trained at PomMarine and did the general catering certificate course and then I worked at Port Ferdinand.”

After her stint there, she continued studying, receiving more certificates in food preparation. With friend Tamesha Worrell cheering her, Diandra took a leap of faith and opened her own catering business last year. She stated however, she could not have launched her business without the support of her “two mothers”, Pauline Lowe (biological) and Joycelyn Hunte.

“I joined the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) to build the confidence I needed in business and also to learn the correct management practices I should adopt.

“During the programme we were put into groups and each group had to come up with a product, which we were told would be distributed publicly, and my group came up with an interesting concept. We took the normal fishcake and added kale and plantain to it. We did sampling in DaCosta Mall. All the batter was sold out and people gave us a lot of good feedback.

“My friend came up with the idea to use plantain but I thought we needed to add something else. So I decided to add kale because people think of it as just something healthy and not something delicious. When people tried it they were really amazed to hear that it had in kale.”

Diandra and her team won an award for the best innovative idea, and this was one of the confirmations she needed that she made the right choice in her career. 

Looking back at her journey thus far as an entrepreneur, she described the experience as nerve-racking but necessary.

“It was a way of building me,” she said. “I was tired of giving my recipes to businesses and not being known. People would know those establishments but not the chefs in the kitchen doing all the hard work. So going out on my own was a way to personlise relationships with customers.”

Contradictory to her shyness, Diandra enjoys taking on big tasks and has catered for a variety of special events such as Christmas and birthday parties, weddings, corporate functions, intimate dinings and other family-oriented events. She recalled impressing Madam Justice Sandra Mason and Member of Parliament Donville Inniss with her flavourful take on local and international dishes.

The next objective on Diandra’s career list is opening a hotel school. She wants to mentor young people in accepting and utilising their natural talents.

“There are children out there who are not academically inclined but they know how to cook. They can do more hands-on things than pick up a book and read. Plus, there are only a few places for people to get certification in culinary arts and a lot of people are rejected from these institutions.” (SB)

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