Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph was born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana. He attended culinary school in Brooklyn, NY and worked in the city for several years before moving to Tucson, Arizona where he met his business partner. The pair opened their first restaurant, Emmer & Rye, soon after. He credits his time spent baking with my aunt as punishment every Saturday for Sunday school as the inspiration behind him getting into the culinary industry.
EBONY spoke with the Caribbean-America chef to learn more of his story,. We also got hime to drop his braised Texas callaloo recipe for us all to try at home.
EBONY: How have your Caribbean roots influenced your cooking style and career?
Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph: I think my Caribbean roots have influenced my cooking style in the way I create. Watching my family cook with emotions led me to create by getting inspiration from things around me. It can come from the simplest of things like a color pattern on a dress or a story about a farmer or ingredient.
What are some of your absolute favorite dishes to make? If it’s hard to pick a dish, what are your favorite ingredients to use within your recipes/menus?
As a pastry chef, I love making cheesecakes and ice creams but the truth is that I constantly am seeking out new flavor combinations or inspirations. As a savory chef, cooking with coconut milk and fine leaf thyme brings me joy and takes me back to my childhood when my aunt or grandmother were cooking in the kitchen and the smells of those ingredients permeated throughout the house. In a way, though, a dish that I haven’t created yet is the one I’m most excited for.
Let’s talk about your Bristol Culinary Scholarship and of it’s impact and importance?
The Bristol-Joseph Culinary Scholarship is important because it’s all the things I wish I had when I was a young aspiring chef; financial support, guidance, and mentorship. We’ve partnered with Southern Smoke Foundation and Austin Community College to impact our local community. The reason why I started it at the community college is because I’m aware that those students may not have the access, support or financial backing to enroll in a higher level culinary school. I want them to have the same mentorship and experience that someone would have at a more prestigious school. It’s what I’m most proud of in my career and hope to be able to expand it in the future.
What’s next for you/your brand/restaurants?
The truth is that what’s next for us is continuing to grow our brand with more restaurants, more community focused activities and grow the Bristol-Joseph Culinary Scholarship.
Braised Texas Greens “Callaloo”
Image: Courtesy of Tavel Bristol-Joseph.
Braised Texas Greens “Callaloo”
- 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, preferably white or yellow (about 1⁄2 lb.)
- 1 large bunch of mature spinach (about 1⁄2 lb.)
- 1 large bunch of curly kale (about 1 lb.), ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into large pieces
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 1 tsp. ground mustard
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lime
- Remove ribs and stems from Swiss chard; trim and thinly slice stems and coarsely chop leaves into large pieces. Trim and thinly slice stems from spinach; keep leaves whole.
- In a cast iron pan or frying pan, heat vegetable oil on high and toss kale in, it will blister and pop, let it color and then remove it. It should still be bright green and fresh with a bit of charr.
- Toast ground allspice, ground mustard, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and cumin in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, swiss chard, and spinach; cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are wilted and tender, 6–8 minutes (kale will retain a bite). Then add blistered Kale and stir together to get everything coated in the spiced coconut milk and remove from heat; stir in lime zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, as needed.
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