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The Ten: Keshia Sakarah

Updated: Dec 30, 2020

Name and job title?

Keshia Sakarah, Chef and Owner of Caribe' - Caribbean Eating (based at Pop Brixton)

Where were you born, and where do you live now?

Born in Leicester, currently living in London

How you describe what you do?

I am a chef and founder of Caribe' - celebrating the diverse food culture of the Caribbean. Exploring the history of Caribbean further to represent the food with deeper meaning, I now find myself talking (and writing for various outlets) about culture, heritage and identity which I love.

How much did you spend on your last cup of coffee?

About £3 and some change - it was a dirty chai with oat milk from Gails. The best combination ever!

What is one ingredient that is crucial to you?

Scallion/spring onion - I find it is used in so many Caribbean dishes and it is still very versatile compared to others in the onion family.

What does a culinary system mean to you?

Anything around the process of food, from 'farm to fork', whether that includes ingredients imported from international countries or sourced from local producers within the UK. Also, the technology used to help restaurants and other hospitality outlets run smoothly.

How does your immediate locale affect your work?

My local environment has a massive impact on my work in a positive way. It is based in Brixton which is a predominantly African and Caribbean area historically. The produce I buy, the people I buy it from and the customers who visit my restaurant are at the heart of why I started my business so important that it is relatable to them as much as those outside of the culture. Also, being a new business based in Brixton, which serves as a large contradiction at the moment, is interesting as the same people I am trying to serve and support - by buying locally from other Black owned businesses, are being excluded through gentrification.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from my culture all the time. The more islands I visit on holiday and the more I research history, Africa and the Caribbean I realise there is so much about my culture and myself that I do not know and inspires me to want to learn more.

What impact do you want to have?

I want to be an inspiration to younger girls and boys who look just like me and do not see themselves represented in creative industries or anywhere for that matter. It is important to be able to see yourself and aspire to things or people that look like and are relatable to you. Unfortunately, for African and Caribbean children in this country that has not been the case, so our journey towards the dreams we create for ourselves are always a little more difficult. 

I want to be known as someone who is honest and true to themselves, who was willing to speak up and speak out, and who is proud of who they are and the culture they are from.

What change do you want to see in the culinary system?

A wider representation of faces within the industry that is reflective of those who operate in it. And an open mindedness to cuisines that are enjoyed globally other than French, British and Italian to name a few. It has always seemed that in the food industry French cuisine is the 'gold star' standard and anything else outside of this is considered secondary. When the world is full of some amazing dishes and ingredients presented in their own unique way, it is unfortunate they do not get the same level of recognition.

We ask all our interviewees to send us two photos: one of themselves and one that represents their work.

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