It can get overlooked in New York’s competitive dining scene, and Caribbean-owned restaurants are hoping to get a boost during Black Restaurant Week, which is now underway.
Fred Raphael, the owner of Rebel Restaurant has been bringing a piece of his culture to the Lower East Side since last August.
“Haitian food to me is staying true to French, Spanish and of course African culture as well,” Raphael said.
The cuisine is now available at a lower price point for New York City’s Black restaurant week. About a dozen Caribbean restaurants are participating — a tasteful end to Caribbean American Heritage Month.
Rebel gets a variety of customers, and Black Restaurant Week certainly helps with the exposure.
Over in Brooklyn, the owner of Tilly’s has plans to expand.
“The sky is the limit for Tilly’s,” said Dalia Lamming.
However it is tough on the city’s culinary stage.
“People still think of Caribbean food as jerk chicken and stewed chicken,” said Lamming.
Nearly two million New York City residents can trace their roots to the region.
“Caribbean food has so many variants,” said Culinary Historian Dr. Jessica B. Harris.
Dr. Harris is the author of ‘High on the Hog,’ which looks at the culinary journey from Africa to America.
“Those enslaved Africans and their descendants were in the kitchens, and in the kitchens, they were foundational at creating the foods of this country, and certainly also this hemisphere,” she said.
Back in Lower Manhattan, Black Restaurant Week serves to uplift a community hit hard by the pandemic.
Black Restaurant Week ends on July 4.
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