Culinary Heroes are Hereos Too!
Betcha 100.00 dollars without reading this you couldn't identify all these legends in this photo. Betcha most of you won't bother to read all of this.Betcha you've never told your kids about any of them! Betcha you may never see any of these cultural giants celebrated in the way that they should but, let's fix that!
On National Heroes Day, we unite to commemorate and pay homage to the trailblazing Bahamian figures and nation builders who have left an indelible mark on our nation's identity and enriched our cultural heritage.
This National Heroes Day, I am honoured to cast a well-deserved spotlight on four remarkable and influential Bahamian Food Culture icons. Their contributions to our country's culinary landscape are not only worth celebrating today, but deserve recognition every day from all of us. Chefs and "civilians", lol alike.
Nola Musgrove a.k.a. my paternal grandmother
My grandmother, 'Nola Musgrove,' is a name I'll forever hold in high regard. She wasn't just my source of culinary inspiration; she was a trailblazer in Bahamian cuisine. In the 60's, As one of the first black female restaurateurs in the region, her restaurant, 'Nola's Baked Crabs' became legendary, winning the hearts and appetites of locals, as well as those regionally and internationally.
Her crowning achievement was exporting her famous baked crabs all the way to Buckingham Palace, making her the first Bahamian to do so. Her legacy continues to inspire me, and her culinary creations remain a treasured part of our cultural heritage.
Lady Di, The Pineapple Lady
Diane Thompson, affectionately known as 'Lady Di,' has carved her name into Bahamian food history as an agricultural icon and a local legend, all thanks to her famous field-grown 'sugar loaf' pineapples.
For over 40 years, starting in 1974, she has tirelessly cultivated her field, nurturing the soil and producing some of the sweetest pineapples ever grown in Eleuthera – the Bahamian island known for producing the finest pineapples in the country!
Her lifelong dedication as a pineapple farmer has not only cemented the Bahamas' reputation for producing some of the world's finest pineapples, often rivaling Hawaii's, but has also drawn the attention of tourists who flock to her field to nab one of her famous pineapples!
I have the fondest memories of visiting Miss Laura's produce stand with my father while growing up. I distinctly recall her stall being abundantly filled with the freshest produce, which naturally piqued my interest as a budding culinary enthusiast. Miss Laura wasn't just a well-known culinary fixture with her produce stand; in her own unique way, she was also a political pundit. She engaged in compelling political discourse with her loyal customers, including my father.
In fact, I'm not entirely sure whether my father frequented Miss Laura's produce stall for the juicy fruit or the juicy political chit-chat.
Chef Jacob Higgins
Jacob Higgins, originally from Mayaguana, personified excellence in all his endeavors. He left an enduring legacy, not only in the realm of Bahamian sports, where he excelled as a competitive sailor, but also in the domain of Bahamian culinary arts.
Higgins began his culinary career as a humble wood chopper and cleaner, responsible for chopping wood for the hotel kitchen and maintaining cleanliness. Through dedication and hard work, he rose through the ranks to become a chef at several prominent hotels, including the Sheraton (now British Colonial Hilton), Emerald Beach Hotel, and Balmoral Beach Hotel, to name just a few.
His culinary journey reached its pinnacle when he became the first Bahamian to hold the title of executive chef.
The aforementioned are surely all my heroes, but if you're a chef, eaten at a local restaurant, have tasted an Eleuthera pineapple, know someone that works in a hotel kitchen, bought fruits from a roadside vendor, then these few have made a way for many and should be heroes us all!
To these and the scores more of hardly recognized food culture heroes, we salute you today!
Happy Heroes Day Y"all.