Caribbean Dutchpot
By Sue Nador

Jamaican Home Cooking

Growing up in Jamaica, Inez Gayle spent a lot of time by her grandmother’s side. “My mom worked so my grandma took care of me, my five brothers and seven sisters,” she recalls. “She could cook! She taught me basically everything, like how to make curry goat.”

Inez’s family lived off the land, planting their own vegetables and raising chickens. When Inez moved to Canada in 1988, she still felt close to food and made a huge family dinner during her first Christmas. “It was a normal Christmas dinner that West Indians like – turkey, stuffing, fish, rice and beans.” Her aunt was impressed and told her she should open a small restaurant. Inez recalls telling her, “I don’t know if I can do it.”

But passion won out, and Inez decided to follow her heart to L'Amoreaux Collegiate and then to a culinary art school. Eager to share her love of cooking with the community, she and her new business partner Andrew Yapp bought The Caribbean Dutchpot from previous owners in 2016 and renamed their new venture The People’s Caribbean Dutchpot.

I love cooking and to see people happy when they eat and have a full stomach. - Inez Gayle, owner
Inez Gayle, owner of The People's Caribbean Dutchpot, learned to cook from her grandmother in Jamaica.
Owner Inez Gayle learned to cook from her Grandmother in Jamaica.

Soup for Every Day of the Week

The most popular item on the menu is jerk chicken. Inez says it appeals to both her West Indian customers and those who vacationed in the Caribbean. “I want to give them the same feeling like when they are there,” she says. There are many other meat offerings from goat curry roti to oxtail stew, but vegetarians don’t leave hungry. “I have vegetarian meals with chick peas and potatoes,” she explains.  “A lot of people want snapper fish or king fish so I do this also.”

Then there is soup. “When it gets cold people want something warm,” Inez explains. She makes a different soup for every day of the week: customers can expect cow feet soup served on Tuesday, fish soup on Wednesday and red pea soup on Friday.

Some customers prefer their food mild while others love the heat. “I make my own pepper sauce,” says Inez, “so if the food’s not spicy enough they can add their own spice.”

At Home in the Neighbourhood

“This neighbourhood is great,” says Inez, sitting at a small table at her restaurant, underneath a tourism poster of Jamaica. She loves the mix of patrons, which includes students from the nearby high school as well as busy professionals wanting a break from cooking after a long day. ”I have great customers, friendly people. I’m here to provide them with good West Indian food from my heart.”

Inez has been feeding people for a very long time, starting with those early days at her grandmother's side. She's catered for the RBC Regent Park Community Health Centre, weddings and for other special occasions. Inez and her business partner Andrew want their little restaurant to make a difference to the Riverdale community.  “I love cooking and to see people happy when they eat and have a full stomach,” she says. “That’s my passion.”

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