Shaking things up with Local Ingredients

Photo by Kemar Holder

Mixologist and Jamoon Villas executive chef Thaddeus Sealy is fiercely patriotic, and his culinary and cocktail creations reflect this love of country.

I use local products and ingredients as much as possible. We talk a good game about import duties and bills; I use things we can find locally at a better price and seasonally to make signature cocktails and menus. And it’s fun creating them.

“I use local products and ingredients as much as possible. We talk a good game about import duties and bills; I use things we can find locally at a better price and seasonally to make signature cocktails and menus. And it’s fun creating them.”

So Barbados-focused is he that his beverages, dishes, jams and chutneys are uniquely named — for example, a mauby-bark coffee cocktail called ‘Tear the Bark Offa You’ or a ‘We Gine Fuh Cane’ offering.

Thaddeus got his start right out of Barbados Community College, landing his first job in the bar of a small restaurant before moving on to bartending at Almond Beach Village and then as a chef at Coral Reef Club, in addition to other establishments on the island.

He says his well-rounded education in both bar and kitchen prepared him for a career as a bar-chef, as he calls it, working in both Barbados and Canada.

He also earned the distinction of being the only participant to feature in the Barbados Food and Rum Festival as both a mixologist and a chef.

After returning from his second stint in Canada, an executive chef position at Jamoon Villa was next in his career trajectory, serving as the launching pad for his business, Dodi Barbados, Which he started with mixologist Jamaal Bowen, before creating Po’Boy Smoked Meats.

Aiming to create “De Bajan Experience” with Dodi Barbados, he says: “I just had a random idea with some friends saying I would like to create a pop-up dining experience where the menu is revealed at the event.

The protein is known, but nothing else. It is simple – three-course, all rum-based cocktails. An event where you can get a cocktail from ackee, donks, seagrapes, whatever is local and whatever is in season.”

In 2020 he had the foresight to launch his Po’Boy Smoked Meats line, thinking, “if the port closed, what would I do?” And a month later, the port closed.

I look at a lot of ingredients that people tend to gloss over or things that I grew up with. My Across Bim signature cocktail is a classic example of this. And I use white rum because we seem to have a fear of white rum; it’s ingredients that people wouldn’t think to put together.

Inspired by other cuisines, he smokes local fish and meat, explaining: “I smoke mahi mahi. I do a local take on the Canadian maple bacon. I do peppered Falernum bacon. Even the wood I use is local.”

But he also has a social conscience, adding: “I also believe in no wastage. At Top Shelf Academy we have a classic example. We have golden apple season — the peelings can either go into the garden or we can turn them into chips and snacks. Or we take the green golden apple, cut it and make our syrup. Then we strain and use that to make jams and chutneys by adding other local ingredients.”

His experience with sustainability and using all aspects of fruits led to yet another product, Dodi’s cheese and charcuterie boards.

“Again, taking inspiration from the cheese and charcuterie boards you get across the world, the idea is tying in the products that I am able to produce and source; instead of having strawberries, grapes, etcetera, you have never had a charcuterie board with donks, gooseberries, golden apples, green mangoes, as the jams or the fruits. It was taking the same fancy things you see overseas and tying them to what we get here and, of course, pairing with rum.”

On the mixology side, he trains and develops local and regional bartenders through Top Shelf Bartending Academy, and his approach to choosing ingredients for his cocktails and mocktails is different.

“I look at a lot of ingredients that people tend to gloss over or things that I grew up with. My Across Bim signature cocktail is a classic example of this. And I use white rum because we seem to have a fear of white rum; it’s ingredients that people wouldn’t think to put together.

“I also look at the landscape of Barbados, seeing what’s available in the bars and restaurants and going totally opposite – all in an effort to highlight the produce, products, foods and so forth found on our wonderful island.”

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