How My Passion Came from Strong Haitian Women
(Petite Place Cazeau, Haiti 1994)
I want to start off by letting you know how excited I am that you are here. Thank you.
I decided to start this blog because the experience of this pandemic has led me to realize how important it is that I cherish my life, and everything about me that makes me, me. I have had many experiences in my career that eventually led me to start this journey with Créole Fraiche. I find it important to cherish it and share that with you.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York on January 25th, 1990. My mother Violette (pictured on the far right with me on her lap) and my father Eugene have always made sure that my siblings and I were well taken cared of. Both of my parents came from Haiti with an American dream and they accomplished that dream relentlessly. My father was a taxi driver in Brooklyn and my mother worked at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan. As you can imagine, I’ve witnessed my parents work day and night. From an early age, my parents taught me about hard work and responsibility.
I was seven years old when my mom had me hand-washing my own clothes. Talk about growing up Haitian!
Being raised in a Haitian-Christian household was not easy. My day-to-day consisted of 3 things: “legliz, lekòl, lakay” (church, school, home). Life was pretty straight forward for my three siblings and I. This made the journey of learning who I am all the more special.
As I grew up, I became more aware of what I enjoyed doing and what passion felt like. My passion for cooking started with my mother and my grandmother Humaine Augustine (She’s the beautiful lady in the middle). One year, in our small Brooklyn apartment, my mother and grandmother were working together to prepare the Thanksgiving dinner. I want to say I was around eight years old at the time. My grandmother stuffed the turkey, while sitting in her wheelchair, and my mother was multitasking in the kitchen. It was at that moment I fell in love with cooking.
Growing up, I’ve always been extremely passionate about the things I enjoyed. Ask anyone who knows me, as a young child, I was obsessed with Michael Jackson!!! I would spend my time singing every song and watching his music videos. Later on, I became a huge fan of Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def. My fandom was so real that I would go to his shows alone, finding myself literally in hip-hop, poetry heaven. When it came to food, this was also a none-stop obsession. After high school, I studied Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University and later studied Hospitality Management at Monroe College. During my studies, I gained meaningful experiences at different restaurants. I trained everywhere; from mom-and-pop restaurants to the high-end Michelin Star restaurants. Like I said, I was OBSESSED.
I thank God for the women in my family.
My passion for food and service came from the women in my life and I am so glad it stuck with me. My mother lives and breathes hospitality till this day. You could never enter her home and say you did not feel welcomed (and this pretty much goes for every Haitian household you enter). I remember a time in my teenage years, when my mother asked me to get her a cup of water. I brought her what she asked for. At least, I thought that’s what I did. My mother immediately sent me back to the kitchen and told me to bring her a cup of water the right way; In other words, I needed to serve her the water with a tray. I now understand what she was trying to teach me. In essence, that there was no act too small for a display of hospitality and grace.
My Aunt Marie (pictured on the left) is literally the same as my mother. During my last trip to Haiti, I had the pleasure of visiting her home and I was stunned. The hospitality, the food, amazing! It was no different from my mother’s style of service. This is what I try to live up to; the gracious, Haitian-Hospitality and food service that the women in my family effortlessly embodied. As an adult today, I see their art of hospitality as a symbol of strength and humility. These women put their life worries and struggles behind them the moment you enter their homes; organically making you feel like you matter the most.
So, this is me. I am a Haitian-American Christian, driven by food, the arts, and hospitality. Today, my mother continues to inspire me to share food and experiences with love, passion, and humility. I thank God for her. As I continue growing Créole Fraîche, my only wish is for people to feel that Creole hospitality that the women in my family passed down to me. It always made me feel warm inside… so I want to share that warmth at the table.