When you look at the foodservice industry today, you can notice how far it has come and grow up to be: a powerhouse industry. Many TV networks have a cooking show, competitions or something related to food or the industry itself. This industry has catapulted so much, that we have networks dedicated solely to it such as the Food Network and the Cooking Channel just to name a few. In almost every city throughout the United States and abroad, food has been given a new perspective, put in the forefront and given an unprecedented platform. The South Beach Wine & Food Festival and the Taste of the Caribbean in the United States, La Fete de la Truffle in France and the Fiera de Cioccolato in Italy are the prime examples of that; events with food at the heart of it all! I mean, who doesn’t love food? A mouthwatering, delicious and hearty meal that brings back nothing but good old memories? I’ll wait…
In the midst of it all, where does the industry stand for Haiti? Where are we now? But mostly what is in store? Before we can look at today and the future, let us take a slight stroll back in the past. It is funny to note that this past is not too distant. I can remember how this industry was looked upon not as early as 15 years ago in Haiti: not as a career! Why? Most people didn’t recognized it as a career path because it was mostly a trade for either maids or for the dedicated housewives of influential people because it was a requirement for them to know how to cook. To be considered having an “esteemed” career you were either a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.
When I first decided to follow my heart and pursue my dream, the shouts of discouragements where flying left and right “why do you want to go to school to learn how to cook? Just come over my house and I will teach you” was probably the one that topped the list for me. I must admit that even though I pushed forward to follow my heart, I didn’t really know what I was walking into. Was I just going to be thought how to cook? What else was this program going to teach me? Am I setting myself up to be ridiculed? But, not long after I started have I realized that culinary school was more than just learning how to cook. It was about helping individuals into becoming sharper, smarter and more effective chefs or foodservice professionals and giving them the tools they have at their disposal to operate businesses. In my case, not only did it help me operate businesses, but it helped me with my own and also helped me in becoming a business myself. Today, all those who were advising against pursuing a career in the culinary field are now very proud of me. I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that I talk for many other Haitian chef friends I know who had similar experiences.
The foodservice industry in the Haitian community has come a long way, a very… long… way! This generation of chefs has been working non-stop to not only help elevate our gastronomy but also to put it on the map of the world as a culinary powerhouse. If other cultures can, why can’t we? In the famous words of President Obama, I say “Yes We Can” and eventually I will say “Yes We Did”. You have chefs like Stephan Durand, Ron Duprat, Manouschka Guerrier, Natacha Gomez, Jouvens Jean, Georges Laguerre, Ivan Dorvi; and so much more who have excelled and continue to do so at the highest level. These chefs and all the other Haitian chefs professing in Haiti and all over the world work tirelessly at perfecting their craft because of their undeniable passion for cooking.
I can proudly say that today, the foodservice industry is playing a big role in promoting Haiti, her culture, her warmth and her beautiful colors throughout the world thanks to many events. The individuals working in this industry are no longer considered the bottom of the barrel but more as ambassadors. I honestly see a bright future in this industry for Haiti and the Haitian foodservice professionals for all that matters. With God’s grace, helping hands, dedicated individuals working towards a common goal, this industry will boom and definitely propel Haiti outside the stratosphere… figuratively.