TAINO (name of the Caribbean’s native Indians) is a new supper club created by cookbook author, Vanessa Bolosier, and restaurateur, April Jackson designed to provide guests with an immersive dining experience that entertains and educates about the Caribbean culture.
After a successful inaugural event in December, April and Vanessa decided to offer a Caribbean vegan culinary experience to their guests to celebrate Veganuary. The supper club features a ‘unique theme for each event, designed to educate, entertain and please all senses’. This vegan edition was called Ital and offered an ultimate vegan feast, which enticed their guests with amazing exotic dishes. Each course was completely plant-based enriched in spices influenced by various Caribbean islands.
Stepping into the sheer paradise, the most delectable of welcoming rum cocktail laced with coconut cream was tasted, taking us back to the sandy beaches of the Caribbean, feeling the ecstasy taking over the rumble of our stomachs for the tropical spices, the announcement for the supper club being an 8-course meal exhilarated us to the core. The first in the meal que was a Grenadian stew, garnished with a sprinkling of cilantro, ladled with breadfruit. Other sides included a traditional rice & peas. The mildly spicy vegan curry a magical blend of herbs that fused very well with the jerked spiced cauliflower making every bite succulent and flavoursome.
The food was a perfect blend of tangible condiments for the frosty bleak weather, relishing our need for warmth. Keeping us on our toes, waiting to taste the next course, the need to unravel the secret recipes was undeniable. Soon, the new dishes adorned the tables, inspired by the concept of ‘sharing platters’ family style, the vegan supper club presented us with the Callaloo Croquettes along with the sumptuous fried okra, tantalising us with their irresistible texture.
These very appetising & rich in texture dishes were savoured with rum punch giving a sweet edge.
Reggae beats and a variety of rum based cocktails & mocktails were served throughout the night, keeping all guests’ thirst quenched.
Never could we have imagined a vegan feast to be this tempting. A range of main courses flooded the table with captivating aromas of vegan curry, coconut slaw and fried polenta served with spicy vegan mayo.
Completely mesmerised by this relishing experience, all tummies were full with vegan delicacies. And to finish on a sweet note, we were served a coconut sorbet, the perfect pallet cleanser, along with caramelised pineapples marinated in rum sauce.
To get into the mind of the two culinary creatives and explore the mastery behind their extraordinary craftsmanship, April Jackson and Vanessa Bolosier kindly gave us an insight into their individual journey and had very diverse yet interesting answers:
Q. When did you discover you had a passion for food? And more so, cooking Caribbean and/or Creole cuisine?
April Jackson: “Both my parents were workaholics and therefore some of my fondest memories were when we would go out to eat at restaurants. I started cooking because my helper used to always cook the same thing and I began getting bored. I would experiment in the kitchen, attempting to recreate things I had eaten elsewhere. Surprisingly I only started cooking Jamaican food when I opened Three Little Birds as I had no need to cook it whilst growing up in Jamaica as it was always available and even so, our food at the restaurant isn’t traditional. “
Vanessa Bolosier: “I can’t really pinpoint a specific moment. Food has always been an integral part of my life. My family is an ultimate foodie family. I reunited with the food I grew up with when I moved to London in 2005”
Q. How long have you been cooking professionally?
April Jackson: “I still do not consider myself a professional cook, however I have been cooking and people have been paying just over 3 years.”
Vanessa Bolosier: “I don’t think I’m a professional cook. This is why I never seeked formal training. I’m a home cook and the only reason why people pay to eat my food is because I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. The only way for me to do that and not go bankrupt by feeding for free was to ask for some money back.”
Q. What is your favorite Caribbean vegan dish?
April Jackson: “We have a dish called New Market, it is a Callaloo stew cooked in coconut milk served with bammy; this would definitely be one of my favorites but I do love a good vegan curry.”
Vanessa Bolosier: Oil down. Hands down. Comforting and moreish. It’s the type of dish that knocks you out but you feel good for it.
Q. What is your favorite culinary destination, beside the Caribbean?
April Jackson: “That’s difficult but I am a lover of Italian food, I could eat pasta all day every day and have enjoyed some delicious meals in Rome, Venice etc. “
Vanessa Bolosier: “West Africa. I love the no-frills, street food culture and the idea of using what you have even if little and making it something that can feed a whole family. West Africans are kings of make a multitude of dishes with the one ingredient. This is amazing to me.”
Q. How did you come up with the idea to partner with April Jackson to launch a supper club?
April Jackson: “Vanessa and I share a passion for showcasing the diversity within the Caribbean that is often not seen outside of the stereotypes and therefore creating a supper club together was easy as it gave us to introduce our version of the place we call home.”
Vanessa Bolosier: “We met at a foodie talk and I had stopped running my supper club. We became friends and since April runs two successful restaurants we ended up talking about what we could do together and the supper club idea emerged.”
Q. When will the next Taino supper club take place?
April Jackson: “The next dinner “Rio” is on Monday March 25th at Three Little Birds, Brixton and will feature dishes from the Caribbean with a touch of Brazilian flare as we focus on the spirit of Carnival. “
Vanessa Bolosier: “We will have a Mardi Gras edition this coming March.”
Q. What’s next for Vanessa Bolosier in the culinary world?
April Jackson: “I have finished filming my first project for Channel 4, I hope to do more TV this year, I’ll be launching my sauces and begin participating in festivals/events bringing a taste of Jamaica to a wider audience.”
Vanessa Bolosier: “Right now I’m focusing on eating more than cooking. Plus a girl never kisses and tells…”
The overall event was a success and the restaurant a full house. This was definitely a vegan feast to remember and a concept which enabled all guests to share food and stories at the same time. All tables were very interactive and gave a chance to the guests to getting to know each other.
Spices, sauces, condiments & goodie bags sponsor: Tropical Sun
To attend the next Taino Supper Club, you can purchase your tickets here:
Words by: Karine Laudort & Sanya Mahajan
Follow Taino on:
Follow April and Vanessa on Instagram:
April Jackson: @AprilJJackson
Vanessa Bolosier: @VanessaBolosier
Photos credits: Pete Eagle.