Jamaican Food Takes on Local Flavors

By Johnette Rodriguez | November 23, 2015
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If “catering company” calls up images of cheese boards or crudites, Patois Catering will turn those upside down. Founded by Conroy and Dina Outar (and now partnered with Arnell Milhouse), Patois refers to Conroy’s Jamaican heritage and the spice palette of many of his and Dina’s dishes.

“I wanted to present what I grew up with to a culture I didn’t know as well,” Conroy recalls, at a recent tasting lunch. “I said to myself, ‘People here [in the U.S.] like to dip—so we need some sauces for our patties.’” Beef patties are a staple of Jamaican cuisine, along with vegetable and chicken variations. But on the island, they’re a hand-held meal. Here they might be tackled with fork and knife and, from the Outars’ creative kitchen, a complementary tamarind sauce or a delectable passion fruit/habanero sauce.

For these patties, the Outars even looked at how Americans fold such turnovers, and they took the dough they wanted to a local baker to ask if he could make something similar. Guatemalan native Luis Rodriguez who owns Wayland Square Bakery found the patty dough similar to an empanada, so he was just the right person for the Outars.

They were also eager to embrace the farm-to-table concept, since, as Conroy points out, “that really fits us, because in Jamaica, it’s all about fresh fruits and vegetables.”

They are thrilled to be members of Farm Fresh Rhode Island and buy through the Market Mobile.

Conroy began work in restaurant management in Jamaica and when he landed in the U.S., he worked at several places on Cape Cod. He and Dina met when she was training to be a chef at Johnson & Wales and he was working at the former Sheraton. They have two children, ages 10 and 15.

Dina’s family fled to the States during the civil war in Angola. Because of Portugal’s colonization of Angola, many of the family recipes she draws on have a Portuguese flair, such as her flan, tweaked seasonally with pumpkin purée.

A Patois dish that combines an Italian-American favorite with a Jamaican kick is “jerk chicken Alfredo” over penne. The sautéed red and green peppers stay crisp; the spice in the creamy sauce is not overwhelming; the jerk-spice marinated chicken chunks are tender and delicious.

Patois offers many more dishes with a Jamaican or Portuguese/African twist to them, but the best thing about their menu is learning (and tasting) that Jamaican food is not confined to jerk seasonings and chicken wings. And, as Conroy says, “We cater to all occasions, whether a backyard party or a bow-tie party!”

401.301.5808 or 401.450.8190; PatoisRI.com

Article from Edible Rhody at http://ediblerhody.ediblecommunities.com/eat/jamaican-food-takes-local-flavors
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