I started following QD Ross on social media for almost two years now. He’s one of the cool guys behind EatAhFood blog. With every picture he posts that either educates me on Trinbago food happenings, highlights new restaurants, I watch as he attends pop-up dinners around the country or just down right mouthwatering dishes cooked up at home for him and his friends. I said to myself ‘this guy knows a thing or two about the trini food scene and I need the scoop!’
This year, on my yearly trip back home, I did just that. Get the scoop as we met up at a pop-up wine bar called Taste Vinoteca. A shared space – its Café Oasis in the day and at 6pm at nights, its transformed to a sexy hidden spot offering small plates, wine and beer on the ground floor of One Woodbrook Place, Port of Spain. Greeted at the bar by a smiling Quincy, we were led to our dimly lit table by a warm and knowledgeable waitress.
Over drinks, my first interview for the blog started off so naturally with easy conversation. Quincy and I spoke on everything Trinbago: from his views of the high-bred doubles being offered these days with its curried seafood and poultry options to current events like the Pan Trinbago payout matters, Petrotrin workers threatening to strike and the dating scene in Trinidad. And, I asked if he singlelife cooks 😉
QD Ross, welcome to Gasparillo Junction Blog. You have an extensive background in media. And being a ‘facilitator of limes, laughter, lunch and loveliness’ – as your Instagram profile proudly states, was it easy to step into the food and beverage industry?
Yes, and no. With my years in media, holding positions as copywriter and creative director for companies on the island, the production and creative aspect of running a blog and featuring local foods came easy–I had the channels. But back in 2008, when I first entered the food blogging world, juggling a day job, consistently updating the blog and funding came with challenges.
EatAhFood. An engaging and vibrant blog that’s said to be a “celebration of food from the Trinbagonian perspective, highlighting the food and beverages we have to offer, as well as all the ingredients that bring them to the table.” Tell us about yourself as a food and beverage enthusiast and how you came to be 1/3 of EatAhFood?
Growing up in Morvant, East of Port-of-Spain, Baidawi and I have been friends for over twenty years, funny enough we met at school in art class so creativity comes naturally for us. The third member of EatAhFood is Dawi’s cousin.
Well, when we liming, we cooking and eating. The only difference now is its being documented. Back in the days my parents were always active, whether in the community or in music and so in my teenage years I’ve had many days eating leftovers, cooking dinner for myself when I came home from school and bubbling ah pot for me and meh padna dem. So it kinda started there where a genuine love of cooking & food was established. EatAhFood was started in 2008, our blog took off on a whole other level that Trinbagonians was not accustom. Now, the country is more open and takes blogging as a serious creative avenue and career.
On Instagram, you always ‘big-up’ your dad for his home cooking abilities. A picture of him preparing a meal was chosen as one of your ‘2016 Best of Nine’ photos. Was he the first person to introduce you to cooking?
Though my father taught my mother to cook for us at home and my mother was the first person I saw in our kitchen cooking every day. My dad is the go-to guy that continues to cook for all our family get togethers and I look forward to cooking with him on weekends and holidays. He’s a retired police officer and after retirement he could put more time into cooking. Only then, by observation was I able to pick up more of his techniques and ways of cooking.
Any local spice or seasoning you can’t stand? And which one you can’t live without?
There is no spice I can’t live without. I greatly appreciate all now more than ever. With research, trial and error I’m understanding spices more. As for seasoning before garlic I will have to say chadon beni is it for me!
From my smartphone’s view, the Trini street food scene is booming these days. With its food trucks and food fairs what are your views for its offerings and what’s your favorite street food spot to eat?
I real like street food! There is a current surge but the food truck movement was always here. Not mobile, these trucks would be stationery and everyone knew what times and how to get to the food. Now, the food truck owners/vendors are expanding to have mobile trucks to offer lunch and dinner to more consumers around the country. Doubles for breakfast–I’m on that team and there is a fried chicken spot in Santa Cruz that I’ve been eating since a little boy called Buyers Fried Chicken, it’s my favorite. Whatever their technique, seasoning and the mystery sauce is I’ve been loyal to the family owned business.
Let’s talk about the restaurant industry in Trinidad.
Now more than ever there seems to be more demand for international cuisine and flavors as the ‘foodie’ crowd grows. And though a lot of fusion is happening—innovating beautiful world cuisines using local and regional grown produce, I’m sure this comes with pros and cons.
More people in Trinidad are now looking at dining-out as more of an experience and are open to try more international cuisines like sushi, etc., so there is good that comes with it.
Do you think the country’s pride of local and traditional cooking is something that’s now limited to home cooking?
Yes, its suffering a little. Other than the landmark, Vene Mange Restaurant that serves up good creole food, I don’t think there is any other restaurant that’s a step up from say a ‘breakfast shed’ to sit and enjoy trini food served à la carte. Fanatic Kitchen’s own Jason Peru is doing his thing serving up local cuisine with an international flare like his pelau croquettes and salt fish raviolis. But today’s foodies in Trinidad would be receptive and ready to eating local and traditional foods served up in a more fine dining setting.
Speaking of home cooking, what’s the go-to-dish you’re making for yourself using fresh produce?
Using the word ‘stew’ loosely my go-to dish to make at home is anything cooked using the stewing method. Like curries and curry-stews.
For me, love and food is more than the funny quotes ‘I love yuh like cook food or a pot of pelau’ LoL. It starts with the knowledge, respect for food and careful handling of it, all the way to the explosion of taste buds and heighten senses of eating and enjoying the experience.
To you, how is love and food connected and how do you express love through food?
I enjoy cooking for my close friends when we’re liming and I’m selective with my lady friends I show off my skills to because of the emotion that goes along with cooking. So much love and effort is tied into food and its preparation. The connections and bonds I’ve been able to share and experience so far in my life have been lasting.
One of the nicest love & food stories I’ve been told is when my mother and father got married. Early on, my mother got cooking instructions from my grandmother and sat out to cook for my dad. Mind you this was before mobile phones and Google searches, so she didn’t have a step-by-step direction at hand. With all good intentions, she ended up badly burning the rice LOL. When my father came home instead of being upset and angry that his new wife’s attempt to prepare him a meal failed he instead took her by the hand and taught her how to cook.
Baidawi was able to join us for drinks! These two guys are supa cool. Their friendship, easy going vibe, collaborative efforts and creativity raises the bar for other Caribbean food bloggers.
2017, a brand new year to kick all the old shit. Any New Year food goals you care to share?
EatAhFood has some real delicious things in store and we are seriously looking into blending our own spices and teas. As for me, just to enjoy my life!