Executive Chef Ron Duprat1 Executive Chef Ron Duprat2
 

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Haitian Caribbean Cuisine Basics

It’s well known that Chef Ron Duprat is proud of his Haitian heritage. He pours that pride into many of his signature dishes to symbolize the food culture of his native homeland. He was just 16 when he came over on a boat for a harrowing journey to this country to pursue the American Dream. He knew from a very young age that he loved to cook, often hanging on his grandmother’s apron strings while she cooked in the kitchen, filling the home with bold flavors, warm seasonings and fresh ingredients.

Today, you’ll find many of Chef Ron’s dishes include the local flavor of Haiti – a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles, Caribbean. It’s no wonder, then, that he incorporates the basic ingredients and flavorings of traditional Haitian dishes. This native cuisine has largely been shaped by Spanish, French and African influences stemming from periods of time when they had control of this land – which is slightly bigger than the state of Maryland. Thus, they introduced their ideas about food and those ideas still impact what Haitians eat today.

The very earliest native hunters and gatherers back in 5000 BC cultivated fruits and vegetables like guava, pineapple, cassava, papaya, sweet potato and corn. Once the Europeans settled here, they brought oranges, mangoes, limes, sugar cane and rice. Africans brought over okra, taro, ackee, spices and pigeon peas. When red beans and rice were introduced not long after, this represented an influence from Louisiana’s famous Creole cuisine for a spicy flair. The French brought over the three Cs: coffee, cotton and cocoa.

Haiti eventually gained its own independence in the early 1800s but the influence of French culture and food still remains to this day. This is why you’ll see Chef Ron Duprat’s dishes comprised primarily of French Caribbean influences. Getting hungry yet?

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