My name is Jonathan, and I’m a chef.
“When I Grow Up … I Want to Be a Chef…”
We came up not having much and most times we had to improvise and be creative to make ends meet. I grew up watching my mom cook and helping out in the kitchen and my greatest memories are there. Not having much meant you had to experiment and play around with different ingredients. We had a kitchen garden and I fondly remember how we would pick vegetables and fruits right off the trees and vines that we planted and nurtured ourselves. These ingredients complemented by spices and some of mom’s secret recipes filled the house with wonderful aromas that the wind carried across to the neighbor’s house that later came knocking to see what was cooking. It’s true that charity starts at home and even though we never had much, we always had a plate or two to spare.
With a growing passion and love for preparing food I decided to make it official. I’ve obtained multiple qualifications and gained experience both locally and internationally in the area of cuisine and catering. Today, with the bit of savings that I managed to garner, I’ve opened a little corner hut in front my mom’s house where I prepare and sell tasty, healthy and affordable food for the people who live in Mocha Arcadia on the East Bank of Demerara. Most of the food and treats I sell are original – 80% of my menu is made up of original recipes.
Business is modest, however lately I was informed by the authorities that I could no longer cook, sell and operate my business where I currently am. This is due to the regularization efforts being made by the local authorities, which means no doing business on the side of the road anymore. While this is great for the community and establishes order, it is not very good for corner shop owners like me that are out there, rain or shine, trying to make a living. I however, take this as a blessing in disguise because now I too believe that I should regularize my business.
My plan is to set up and run a mobile ‘Guyana meets Italy’ fusion restaurant. It will be the first of its kind in Georgetown. I also want to be part of the formal economy and play by the rules – once bitten, twice shy. I want to register my business (Johnny’s Kitchen) and secure all the necessary permissions to do business, including a food handler’s certificate. Being mobile will allow me to expand my customer base and reduce cost associated with rent and utility.
Currently my fiancée, who quit her job to assist me with my dream and in the ‘kitchen’, is the only ‘employee’ I have. As business picks up and the first mobile restaurant ‘rolls’ off, I will be employing at least one or two persons, creating jobs in my community by employing locally and buying local.
I make great food and want to share my artistry with all the foodies in Georgetown, and I think a mobile restaurant is a great and convenient way to do so. I would like to be my own boss and contribute positively to society in my own way. Help me achieve my dream and get a tasty treat while you are at it.
What do chefs do?
Obviously chefs cook food. I like to mix things up and create new flavors - when you eat my food I want tour tastes buds to tell your brain OMG! Keep on coming back!
What do you like most about being a chef?
I enjoy how food makes people happy. I like to see the expressions when they eat my food. I feel good knowing that maybe my cooking just made someone’s day a bit brighter.
What did you have to learn to be a chef?
One way is to attend cooking schools. Another way is by working in a restaurant. That’s the way I learned. I started working in a café when I was 16. I learned about different kinds of food, how to prepare them, and how to make food look great on a plate. When I went on to get some work in Jamaica and Trinidad, other chefs taught me how to cook in different ways too.
What would you like to say to potential supporters?
My food is different, I have original recipes that I developed over time and the idea of a mobile restaurant is something new to Georgetown. Plus, not sure anyone has attempted to combine Guyanese cuisine with Italian. I would just like to say that your support will not go in vain and that you will be helping me achieve my childhood dream. More importantly there will be tasty treats for everyone. Thank you in advance!