Typhanie Stewart cooks delicious dishes rooted in island flavour
If flavour is a part of a culture’s DNA, then consider pots and pans the perfect tools for telling the mouthwatering story. E-book author and self-taught home cook Typhanie Stewart crafts this tale for readers and fellow food lovers.
“Creativity is boundless when it comes to food; and the value of it is priceless. And by value, I’m not just referring to cost; I’m talking about the cultural richness of it. The history it preserves, the stories it tells, and the overwhelming joy it brings to others when made with love,” Stewart told Food.
As a true fan of traditional Jamaican food, it is no surprise that they make up some of her favourite dishes. “My signature dishes are oxtail, curried goat, [stewed] chicken, rice and peas, ackee and salt fish, dumplings. I also make really amazing pasta dishes,” she added.
Admitting that she has always been a lover of food, Stewart’s love for the culinary arts was brought to the fore when her family moved from South Florida, a Mecca for Caribbean food, to Central Florida. Now, if she was craving a Jamaican meal, she had to make it herself. She’d make meals and share them on social media and by so doing, gave users a taste of her home.
“Cooking is absolutely my way of connecting with my roots,” Stewart shared, adding that she found it important to provide people with a taste of the Caribbean because she is so proud of it. “I believe Caribbean food is absolutely [the] best fusion of cultures on the planet, as it is influenced by African, British, Amerindian, East Indian and Chinese cuisines, just to name a few.”
MEASURE OUT INGREDIENTS
Amassing over 100,000 followers on Instagram, she decided to create an e-book, based on the request from her audience. “At first, I was sharing my dishes, but I didn’t include recipes because I never cooked with recipes. I had to train myself to measure out ingredients for the people who wanted to recreate my dishes. So an e-book was the easiest way for me to compile some of my most in-demand dishes at the time.”
Though not a chef or culinary artist by profession – Stewart works in public relations – cooking took on added significance, especially when work slowed due, in large part, to the global COVID-19 pandemic. It became her safe space from all the chaos.
“This is when I started my social media page dedicated to food, and it took off pretty fast. There was no intention of becoming an influencer per se. Rather, I just wanted to share with others how I intended to carry on the food traditions of our culture, upon realising the frailty of life and our elders during a time when so many lives were at risk,” she shared.
With the goal of working with more brands that are aligned with her core values, she would love to publish a cookbook in hard copy one day. Until then, she will continue to enjoy expressing her creativity over the flames. “The thing that I enjoy the most about cooking is that I get to tap into my creative side. I love starting with mere ingredients and creating something as beautiful and delicious as I envisioned before I even started.”
When asked if she ever gets the chance to return home to Jamaica, the island that has brought her taste buds pure unfiltered joy, she happily said she does as often as she can, rounding it off to at least once a year. When home, she takes advantage of the local fare. “I love to eat traditional breakfast, roadside jerk chicken, and seafood on the beach,” she added.