Chubby’s Famous Grill – Trinidad’s “Must – Eat “ Street Food Tourism

The Double Stacker with Additional Toppings of Bacon and Pineapple
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

Street food plays a huge role in a destination’s culinary tourism. It transcends age gaps. It unites people from all socio economic, gender and racial backgrounds. Street food curates a destination’s food culture by linking a specific place with a food experience. The local street food scene faces the toughest critics who want tasty, affordable and convenient meals fast. This niche demands not only creativity, consistency and a keen eye for detail but an ascertained grasp on earning respect from the people. Johann Benjamin is one such professional who decided to bring this same “ all or nothing” attitude to his brand, Chubby’s Famous Grill. Undeniably, food tourism takes a renewed approach in Trinidad’s street side culinary food scene. The tenets of sustainability, economic remuneration and stability are closer knit to underlying themes of community empowerment and holistic development.

Chilli Cheese Fries
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin


Chubby’s Famous Grill offers authentic culinary tourism experiences to the hearty soul food eater. This Chef turns tables as a prominent DJ in local parties. Often performing his famous DJ sets late at night into early mornings, the entertainment industry leaves one famished. Johann affectionately known as Chubby would search for street food options during these post performance hours. Unfortunately, he was always confronted with a bold and daring redundancy in choices of street food options. He felt that he could truly make a difference in the street food tourism niche. Over time, Chubby began to consider his options. Johann felt that it was only fair to set up in East Trinidad where he grew up in a heavily fostered community upbringing era and strived to evolve into all-round built individual with resilient character and morale. After some research, proper planning, and a few culinary skill acquisitions Johann opened Chubby’s Famous Grill two years ago. Today, the grill that used to be a pop up food cart is now a full-fledged food truck.

Chilli Cheese Fries with Grilled Shrimp
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

Families, couples and after work crews frequent this street side food stop at its convenient location obliquely opposite Chicken Hut on the Southern Main Road in Curepe. Usually, Chubby’s Famous Grill is open from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. (or until sold out). He is there on Fridays, Saturdays and mostly the night before a public holiday in Trinidad and Tobago. The service at Chubby’s Famous Grill is impeccable. The menu is always dynamic and expanding, the food tastes fresh and the quantities are more than enough for light weight foodies. Chubby buys most of his ingredients from local markets supporting the farmers in his area. He tries to bring as many homemade products to his menu. One of the reasons he decided to set up in the east (other than being from there) is the access and the availability to fresh ingredients for his business. Johann differentiated his product market and brought restaurant taste and quality to his brand, Chubby’s Famous Grill.

Sweet Chilli Barbecue Wings, Crinkle Cut Fries and Macaroni Salad
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

On his menu the prices start at TTD 10 and can go up to TTD 50. There are lots of items to choose from such as classic chilli dogs, classic beef burgers, sloppy joes, veggie burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and grilled shrimp sandwiches. Then there are signature items like The Monster Burger (all beef patties topped with cheese and mouth-watering meat on top), The Boogie Man (2 beef patties, minced meat and cheese topped with jumbo sausage), The Double Stacker (2 beef patties drenched in barbecue sauce topped with cheese), The Cheef Burger (all beef burger patties topped with cheese and succulent grilled chicken). Recently, he added popcorn chicken, sweet chilli barbecue wings and macaroni salad to the menu. Secret signature sauces are quite the highlight including his specialty pepper sauce and honey mustard delight. Last but not least the sides featured on his menu are onion rings, pineapple, bacon, egg, salami, fries and cheese. Drinks are also made in house and range from all natural, refreshing, thirst quenching juices like grapefruit, orange, fruit punch, mauby and in December one can find the seasonal sensation, sorrel. Johann’s health and safety standards are always on par with quality control. He does his due diligence which comforts the foodie’s mind from any dubious concerns over street food and its imminent risks. 

Popcorn Chicken and Fries
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin


The nature of street food tourism in Trinidad is so profound that culture immersion is inevitable. Johann has learnt his mother’s cooking traditions and married that with contemporary food innovations and techniques. He passes this on to his customers. When they taste his food they immediately get the best of both worlds. It is also worth mentioning that street food honour commands an armoury of respect for the food quality and the customers, loyalty to providing the best experience for food adventurers and trust in food safety and sanitation. All of these attributes Johann possesses and more. After all he is beloved by his community for his many strides working with youth in sport and leadership. Often fortuitous to the food tourism niche is the ability of food entrepreneurs to empower and inspire others. Chubby’s Famous Grill brings persons from all walks of life together. His most loyal clients come from as far as Point Fortin. There is off road parking and al fresco dining with the scenic backdrop of the Northern mountain range amidst shady trees. Why is this place so incredible that people risk long insufferable drives to East Trinidad? (The commute is 6 hours; that’s 3 hours to Chubby’s Famous Grill in Curepe and 3 hours return trip to Point Fortin). There has to be some justification other than the facts that patrons can park, sit and enjoy street food dining on a cool breezy evening or late night before they journey home.

Barbecue Wings, Fries, Macaroni Salad and Grilled Shrimp
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin


Whilst street side food tourism has many social enigmas its very essence is food science and technology. If we shall consult anyone on this matter it should be Nikola Tesla. He advises if one wants to know the secrets of the universe one should start thinking in terms of energy, frequency and vibration. Chubby’s Famous Grill has become quite well-known because of just that; Johann’s love for the people, the passion for what he does and his ability to fill a need for delicious, high quality and diverse street food. He harnesses the most powerful and highest energy, frequency, vibration in the universe, love. He channels that into his intentions, his thoughts and his actions coupled with his street food execution and service delivery. Innately, energy transfers from him to the food and to the foodie. Cognizant or incognizant of his holistic role in Chubby’s Famous Grill, this street side chef reverberates more light and love in a world that desperately needs it.  If there were ever a taste equivalent to describing love then this would be it. The foodies who line up every Friday and Saturday night to order any combo or side dish off Chubby’s Famous Grill menu can vouch for and identify with this feeling. The results of his hard work and tenacity oblige in his favour by guiding him to a purpose driven life where he brings love and happiness through one of his many passions, Chubby’s Famous Grill.

Chilli Cheese Hot Dog with Grilled Shrimp
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

Albeit, food tourism conditions have never been riper in Trinidad and Tobago for development and promotion but the power is ultimately left in the hands of the citizens, the international tourists and the food tourists. When the masses rise to the occasion and own their buying power in this capitalist destination they work to mend leakage and focus repatriation on destination Trinidad and Tobago. The decision to buy from a local small business ensures that a strong, stable and sustainable economy is built. One is left to discern that the role of food tourism and by extension street side food tourism is not only an antidote for plodding the way forward for diversification in our economy and destination. It culminates in a far from obtuse rationale for closing generational gaps and cultivating a social fabric that is so hinged on making heirloom recipes and communal fortitude cool again. Chubby’s Famous Grill is more than just an established street food tourism initiative. It serves as a striking example of decisive action to cause an effect and create a positive change in the food tourism landscape and our destination.

Chubby’s Famous Grill
Photo Credit: Johann Benjamin

Chubby’s Famous Grill can be reached at the following link and contact number below :

Instagram: chubbyfamous

Phone: 728.5043

12 by Rishi – A Culinary Tourism Adventure

12 by Rishi
“The Blessing”
Goat Cheese Tiramisu Panna Cotta with a Cracked Pepper Cassava Pone Biscotti with a Roasted Ripe Fig and Pepper Chocolate Mousse
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Worldwide, food is fast becoming a popular motivating and defining factor for the new tourist’s final decision in travel destination choices. Culinary tourism, gastronomic tourism or food tourism is quickly ascending into the role of storyteller for any and every destination. The immersive experience of visiting specific locations for food and beverage, food festivals and participation in food activities distinguishes destinations’ cultural identities from each other. If developed and promoted effectively, this niche can serve as a sustainable model for destinations going full throttle behind culinary tourism. There is infinite potential for revenue generation with multiplier and economic trickle-down effect for communities. Overall, national policy makers and planners should strive to include clustering of industry sectors and show economic infrastructural support for small micro and medium enterprises.

12 by Rishi
“The Debe”
Gold Plated Shrimp Pholourie with Tamarind Sauce Foam
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

In Trinidad and Tobago, we have changed so many hands of ownership that our food is now a reflection of our history. It gets a bit more complex than that, as what we eat, where we eat, how we eat and why we eat are interlinked and juxtaposed to provide any outsider with a first hand intrinsic view of our people. We celebrate Christmas with an array of dishes paying homage to our Spanish influences. Similarly, Divali, Eid, Indian Arrival Day and Chinese Double Ten Anniversary are earmarked by delicacies from our ancestors from the Far Eastern and Middle Eastern countries. Strikingly, these recipes are not untouched ancient relics but modernized and innovatively curated to suit the West Indian palate which gave birth to Trinbagonian Cuisine.  Iconic and emerging chefs have risen to the occasion and challenged themselves as the game changers and champions for development and promotion of this niche tourism; culinary tourism.

12 by Rishi
“The Debe”
Pholourie Tempura Pepper Roti with a Mother in Law pickled Morai/Carrot Slaw
Woubles with Cucumber Chow Slaw
Aloo Pie Pizelli topped with Creamed Aloo Pie Filling
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Trinidad and Tobago is keeping up with the demands of the new tourist with the supply of culinary tourism. One such professional who is shaking up the local culinary scene is Chef Rishi Ramoutar. He is a true son of the soil hailing from Arima in East Trinidad. His work compels the viewer to wonder what a walk through his creative mind would look like. One can only imagine it would be far from complacent or boring. Chef Rishi grew up in a space where his immediate environment exposed him to the seeds of hard work, entrepreneurship, customer service excellence, humility and consistency. Of course, the love for food and helping his parents in their local roti shop also sparked his culinary interest.

12 by Rishi
“Palate Cleanser”
Mother in Law Frozen Sorbet
Photo Credit: Anthony Scully

Chef Rishi saw his parents labour in love for the community and environs through their passion but the young chef was a picky eater. Often, he was found experimenting and creating his own culinary masterpieces in his makeshift home kitchen lab. However, he understood and adopted a zero wastage policy in his kitchen. Whenever there were leftovers he found a way to use them to innovate a new culinary creation. Little did he know that when your intentions are pure in heart and you are desirous of pursuing a particular path the universe listens and conspires to get you just what you asked for. Chef Rishi continued to create and share his passion for food with friends and family at events and social gatherings from beach limes to river limes just to name a few. His social circle realized his potential, talent, creativity and skill and supported his culinary quests.

12 by Rishi
“The Salad”
Ham cured Beets with Honey and Rum Whipped Goat Cheese and Burnt Garlic Powder
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

Chef Rishi’s unwavering food inquisition and innovations backed by support from his loved ones led him to enrol in Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (one of the top culinary schools in the region). There, he honed his skill and talents and grew thankful for his culinary mentors one of which includes the icon, Chef Khalid Mohammed. In due time, Chef Rishi graduated and took over his parents’ business; C & J Roti Shop otherwise known as C& J Restaurant and Bar. Notwithstanding, his culinary adventure did not stop there. The advent of social media began to bridge a gap with the overwhelming desire of domestic tourists to experience Trinidad differently. People found themselves living vicariously through Chef Rishi’s mind blowing culinary creations and explosive food fusions on various social media platforms.

12 by Rishi
Mini Lion Fish served on Callaloo Taco Shells with a Blistered Salsa (Scorpion Pepper Oil)
Photo Credit: Anthony Scully

If only there was a way to bring people together to experience such creativity and culinary expertise. In 2019, there was a major “light bulb” moment and Chef Rishi decided to bring the supper table dining experience to Trinidad and Tobago. A supper table is somewhat like a supper club where persons socially gather to dine at a specific location. It can also be referenced to Chef’s Table. The dining experience is called,”12 by Rishi”. Chef Rishi has already hosted several events for this year with his competent and experienced team. Together, they aim to host “12 by Rishi” twice per month. The supper club has been well received by food adventurers locally. This is not a surprise as the more Chef Rishi creates the more creative he becomes and the more he works in tandem with the universe to live his purpose during his time with us. Patrons who miss the event may have to join a waiting list because “12 by Rishi” seats only twelve guests. Once the event is advertised on social media it is usually booked and sold out within a few days. The cost of attending “12 by Rishi” is affordable and on par with the quality, taste, service, food diversity, attention to detail and presentation.

12 by Rishi
BBQ Shrimp and Cou Cou Creme Brulee
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

A creative dining experience such as “12 by Rishi” elevates niche tourism, in this case culinary tourism. It creates a sense of pride for nationals that this is a home grown event. Chef Rishi uses local, fresh, home-made and high quality produce that satiates the senses and makes tourists taste the difference. He buys from local farmers and suppliers lending support to sustainable best practice. When Chef Rishi shares his passion through his purpose he directly and indirectly inspires others to do the same. His work is tastefully and artfully crafted to the point that it engages learning interface through conversation over food. This instinctively provokes the mind of the food adventurer to think creatively. The food explorer discovers Chef Rishi’s concepts, his creative process of ideation to execution which includes problem solving. These food tourists are now subconsciously nurtured to apply creative thinking to their own lives to design and apply problem solving there.

12 by Rishi
Crix, Market Cheese and Kutchella Stuffed Chicken Breast “atomized” with a shot of Chardonnay
Photo Credit: Antony Scully

” 12 by Rishi”, a modern, authentic, creative and culturally sustainable initiative is a step in the right direction for culinary tourism. The event diversifies the domestic tourism product in Trinidad and Tobago. It makes the destination even more attractive. So next time domestic tourists feel the need to escape they should stay to getaway and enjoy one of the best culinary experiences this island has to offer. As our nation’s motto boasts, ” Together we as aspire, Together we achieve”, we should band together to support local and buy local because when one of us is victorious, we all share in the victory of being Trinbagonian.

12 by Rishi
“The Offering of Love”
Parsad Beignets with Cardamom Pastry Cream Powdered Yogurt and a Roasted Grape Salad and an Apple Chip
Photo Credit: Antony Scully


Avid food explorers and culinary enthusiasts can discover more about the supper club, ” 12 by Rishi” from the listed contact information below:

Instagram: chef_rishi_ramoutar

Instagram: 12_by_rishi

Facebook: Cooking With Rishi

Youtube: Cooking with Rishi

Phone #: 643.2189 or 384 – 2200

Location: C & J Roti Shop

#6 Paradise Lane, Tumpuna Road, Arima

Heather Henderson-Gordon’s La Danse Caraibe Sews A PatchWork Of Thematic Dance Motifs

Heather Henderson-Gordon’s La Danse Caraibe Sews A PatchWork Of Thematic Dance Motifs

Through A Diverse Presentation Of Music, Choreography And Expression Youth Are Challenged To Nurture Virtues

LDC’s budding dance luminaries beam on the Queen’s Hall stage in the closing formation of Heather Henderson-Gordon’s choreography, Stars, in the 2016 dance season, Stars. Photo courtesy MSA Studios.

November 22, 2018 – Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago… Heather Henderson-Gordons children’s dance school, La Danse Caraibe (LDC), will open the curtain to a pastiche of morally compelling dance compositions in its production, PatchWork. Dance enthusiasts and fans will be treated to a diverse medley of ballet, modern contemporary, tap, folk, limbo and Hip Hop choreography by Henderson-Gordon, Arlene Frank-Collis, Gregor Breedy, Makeba Gabriel, Takyha Springer, Marielle Dos Santos, Kelsey Des Vignes, Michael Mortley and Curt Alexander. Directed by Henderson-Gordon, the show runs on Saturday December 1, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. and Sunday December 2, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. at Queen’s Hall.

The LDC stars are captivating in Heather Henderson-Gordon’s modern contemporary piece, Colours of the Earth, for the 2016 production, Stars. Photo courtesy MSA Studios.

Makeba Gabriel is known for her show-stopping limbo choreography as seen in Akua, which was presented in 2016 for Stars. Photo courtesy MSA Studios.

As thematic motifs in the PatchWork, each dance piece will represent an interpretation of virtues which are lacking in our society. LDC will call its audiences to introspection as it intricately weaves each patch inspiring reflection on humility, patience, respect, honesty, caring, compassion, sympathy, empathy, love, altruism, diligence, productivity and tolerance. In its upcoming dance season, LDC aims to make a connection in the minds of young people through its choreography, music and expression establishing a sound ethical foundation to guide the moral compass of our nation’s youth. Highlights of the show will include a performance by some of the school’s alumni in Frank-Collis’s choreographic piece, Having Faith, and a guest performance by Springer’s Super Saturdays Hip Hop crew who recently competed in the 2018 World Hip Hop Dance Championship in Phoenix, Arizona.

Best Village’s multiple-award winning folk choreographer, Gregor Breedy, lends his signature folk dynamism to the 2016 LDC production, Stars, with the stirring work, Processional Rotation. Photo courtesy MSA Studios.

LDC opened its doors in September 1986 to offer dance training to children from age three (3) in the ballet technique of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and the modern techniques of Martha Graham and Lester Horton. The small school was founded by renowned choreographer and dancer, Henderson-Gordon, after her return home from scholarships with the distinguished dance and performing arts schools, the Martha Graham School, The Ailey School and The Juilliard School. Armed with a deep passion to contribute to Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural landscape, LDC was born out of Henderson-Gordon’s vision to inspire young dancers to pursue their passion while instilling the ethos of discipline, dedication and perseverance. Developing well-rounded dancers, the school celebrates diversity embracing all body types and abilities as it encourages its students to train in a minimum of three (3) dance genres including RAD ballet and Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing’s (ISTD’s) modern contemporary and tap techniques. In 1991, LDC became the first school in Port of Spain to offer formal training in Hip Hop dancing. Subsequently, in 2006, LDC’s founder complimented its classical and urban dance instruction with training in the indigenous dance forms of folk and limbo.

In the 2016 LDC presentation, Stars, Heather Henderson-Gordon takes a colourful and unconventional approach in this ballet choreography entitled Fire In Yah Wire. Photo courtesy MSA Studios.

Guest performers in the 2016 LDC presentation, Stars, defy gravity in Hip Hop choreography by Matthew ‘UGK_Matt’ McClean. Photo courtesy MSA Studios.

Part of the proceeds from PatchWork will benefit LDC’s scholarship programme that offers dance tuition to youth from marginalised communities. The production will also raise funds to facilitate renovations, upgrades and on-going maintenance to the LDC dance studio, which is an affordable and easily accessible performance and rehearsal space that is actively utilised by members of our nation’s performing arts communities. Tickets cost $130 and are available at the Queen’s Hall box office and from the school. For more information, join the PatchWork Facebook (FB) event page at bit.ly/LDC2018PatchWork and connect with LDC on FB, Twitter and Instagram @LaDanseCaraibe or call (868) 620-9677.

Renowned dance teacher and choreographer, Heather Henderson-Gordon, demonstrates for her young dancers in studio as they prepare for LDC’s 2018 dance season, PatchWork. Photo courtesy Elise Romany.

Under the guidance of dance teacher and choreographer, Arlene Frank-Collis, LDC’s senior modern contemporary dancers train diligently in preparation to shine in the 2018 dance production, PatchWork. Photo courtesy Elise Romany.

Under the guidance of dance teacher and choreographer, Arlene Frank-Collis, LDC’s senior modern contemporary dancers train diligently in preparation to shine in the 2018 dance production, PatchWork. Photo courtesy Elise Romany.

WHAT:          PatchWork

WHO:            La Danse Caraibe

WHEN:         Saturday December 1, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.

Sunday December 2, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.

WHERE:       Queen’s Hall

TICKETS:     $130.00

Queen’s Hall box office – (868) 624-1284

La Danse Caraibe – (868) 620-9677

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Liza Miller, Managing Director

estuary PR Limited

p: (868) 367-5295

e: liza@estuaryPR.com

www.estuaryPR.com

The Cathedral Basilica of The Immaculate Conception

This year I met with some tourists from Virginia U.S.A.  They were also well travelled global citizens who remarked how much Trinidad reminded them of Hawaii. Something about our chill island vibe, the beaches and the abundance of readily available roadside fruit made them feel this way. They also compared us to Saudi Arabia because our oil and gas refinery nightscape resembled one of the many nights during their stay in the Middle East. However, the one thing that stood out to them was our architecture and the disregard for segmentation in geographic development.  By this I mean there is little separation between residential and commercial areas. Now I am not saying that we absolutely do not have separation or zoning because in some areas we do. However, more often than not one is met with fancy dining restaurants smack in the middle of an industrial or manufacturing sector with residential and commercial plots within walking distance from each other. Needless to say they all coexist in harmony.

Quite interestingly one can travel to any other destination and easily identify the architecture and the zone in which a specific type of design style belongs. We have been privy to many influences and the architecture that thrived during the reign of each passing era and the change of hands of ownership. Diversity does not stop there as those who survived the post emancipation period were able to build and design their own homes and businesses using knowledge, skill not forgetting design from their own cultural backgrounds. Hence the result todal is a multifaceted island designer collection of architecture and interior design. The Cathedral Basilica of The Immaculate Conception is one of those relics that has survived to depict this tale. It sits in the capital city, Port of Spain, a bustling district that is also not exempt from (my aforementioned rambling about) lack of zoning. The Cathedral beams magnificence in plain sight. She graces us with her poise and beauty. She is an emblem of hope for the future signifying the strength and power of a nation that has been through a lot but still stands today.

(Photo Credit: “Part 1 The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception,” Trinidad Guardian)

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception was the first Catholic Church in Port of Spain. It was built by the then Spanish Governor in 1781 and at that time it was not yet a cathedral. An English Governor decided that there was a need for a bigger and better church to accommodate the growing catholic population. In 1816 the foundation stone was set. The shape of the building took the form of a cross. The materials used to build this church included blue metal and limestone sourced from the Laventille quarries. However, iron framework was imported from England for the doors and windows. It was not  until 1822 that this church became a Cathedral. In 1851 Pope Pius IX ranked the church as a Minor Basilica.

(Photo Credit: The Front View of The Cathedral of  the Immaculate Conception , Pinterest)

The design of the Cathedral is heavily Gothic Revival which borrows some features from the gothic era (1150- 1400). There is no surprise that the cathedral’s design was inspired by this style.  Aptly, the timing of design and construction coincided with the gothic revival movement that took place whilst the English Governor was in Trinidad. The gothic revival was a movement that began in England in the second half of the 18th century. This style of design reveals a pious mood, one of righteousness and high minded thinking evident in most religious and scholarly institutions. We owe the architects of that era our gratitude. At that time they used creative thinking and design management in technological advancement to conceptualize and execute their design theories. The end result were a few marvelous design solutions to reduce building mass whilst trying to increase space and light in this gothic revival style.

(Photo Credit: The Inside View of The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, Fidelity Electronics Limited)

 The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception maintains pointed arches which take the weight off the ceiling to balance an overall irregular structure of the building. Yet, it keeps a common ceiling area. There are pinnacles, spires and lots of window tracery. There are ribbed vaults with thinner walls to increase space in the cathedral.  The flying buttresses act as a form of support for the walls and ceiling. They take the weight off the walls and transfer them to the ground. This meant more space was used for window installation. Thus more natural light can enter the cathedral. The overall emphasis throughout the design style is vertical. Amidst the beige colour scheme going on for the cathedral’s exterior there was the incorporation of artistic and decorative elements  with bursts of colour on the interior. There are statues inside the building as well as a prominent virtuous lady on the upper exterior of the building.

(Photo Credit: The Side View of The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception, Wikimedia)

The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is listed as a heritage site at  #31 Independence Square Port of Spain. She has been given much care to maintain her structure and stature. If you live in this destination you should definitely find your way to the capital to see what all the hype is about. If you intend on visiting Trinidad, our citizens would love to host you and they eagerly await your arrival. I guarantee you that we are second to none in our cuisine, culture and lifestyle. You just have to experience it to believe it!

 

 

 

Cocobel Chocolate

Sometimes I feel like we live in a magical place. Look at our geographic space, we are located away from the hurricane belt, the tectonic plate shifting incidents rarely affect us  and there is an abundance of chocolate. We love chocolate so much that we even use it to play mas’ during our j’ouvert celebrations at Carnival. I am not describing  the substandard sugar loaded candy bars today but the immaculate cocoa finery which takes you to heights of the northern, central and southern range combined. You figure out the math because the numbers will just drive me more insane than the eclectic skills of local architect turned chocolatier, Isobel Brash otherwise known as Cocobel.

(The building that hosts Cocobel & Medulla Art Gallery)

Photo Credit: Medulla Art Gallery

Yet again I am raving about another architect who is female and making those bold moves right here in Trinidad. Can you imagine the scope of creativity when you take an architect’s experience, knowledge and mindset to chocolate innovation?! The possibilities are endless!!! Think about the elements and principles of design fused with Isobel’s passion for Trinidad and Tobago’s culture. The results are always decadent masterpieces depicting and reflecting her architectural expertise in functionality, design and the diverse palate of local ethnic delight!

(The stairs leading to the porch of the Cocobel studio)

Cocobel translates to the meaning of Cocoa Queen and this is the brand name of Isabel’s chocolates. She is the queen who sources local cocoa beans from her brother’s estate in South Trinidad at Rancho Quemado and makes magic with them at her space on #37 Fitt Street in Woodbrook. The space is shared with The Medulla Art Gallery. (How cool is that?!  You get to discover what’s going on in the local art scene when you go chocolate shopping. Who’s says you can’t have your chocolate and eat it too!!!). Cocoa trees greet you upon entering the gates of the Cocobel premises. As you sashay up the staircase the rustling of leaves and the island breeze catches your face with sheer joy.  Craftsman furniture pieces with artisan stools and the glamorous doorway to chocolate heaven are less than a few feet away. But the porch beckons you to stay and bask in your storybook feelings. Yes, if we had to write an island fairytale this house would definitely be on the illustrator’s pages sharing a glimpse of happiness with the reader; an untamed energy so pure and perfect, hopeful yet unanimously ingenuous.

(The accent wall in the Cocobel studio)

I am not an architect but my design senses tell me that this building appears to be a mix of architectural styles. I see a bit of the Edwardian era, the less ornate Victorian era with plant inspired motifs and some stencil work . It also looks like the arts and crafts era made an impact too. I say this because of the simpler and handmade furniture pieces on the porch, the apt natural beauty of  the unpainted wood grain, wood carvings, the floors and the leather work on the upholstered chairs inside. The geometric forms on the gates , the use of metal indicate some use of art deco design.  Upon entering the studio there is sense of modernism and minimalism with a hint of Moorish style (the domed at the top of the framed windows). There are a few pieces of furniture, a sensual glass coffee table, paintings on the walls to the left, a great piano to the right end just where a staircase descends to the art gallery and an accent wall inebriated with scribblings about the Cocobel brand. In front of the accent wall is a simple crafted table bearing all the chocolate bounty for the consumer’s eyes to devour. The principles and elements of design unite in a harmony to echo throughout the exterior and interior spaces of Cocobel.

(The seating area in the Cocobel studio)

 

(The stairs that spiral to the Medulla Art Gallery)

A simple set up on the inside is all anyone needs to convince them that this is the real deal. There are truffles, barks, bon bons with fillings, chocolate covered cocoa and coffee beans. Isabel infuses local fruit, spices and herbs in her chocolate making. But this is no monkey business as each piece is carefully crafted leaving a  balance which is any designer/architect’s purpose when they set out on a project.  Albeit Isabel’s Cocobel is for chocolate lovers, foodie enthusiasts, dessert connoisseurs and persons who are open to trying new things. The brand is highly supportive and reflective of local culture. It is consistent with being diverse with its offering and it does not compromise on high quality production. There is little to no generation gap with Isabel’s chocolate market. It is the quintessential gift for special occasions from weddings, birthdays, anniversaries to “just because”days.  Cocobel’s brand hinges on cocoa innovation. There is consistent progressive creative thought in the brand development which is quite evident in the product lines. In April, Isobel experimented with the seasonal grapefruit bark. The tangy and sweet combination was delectable and it was made right here in Trinidad. During the Easter holidays the children and artisans in all of us were not exempt from her chocolate love affair as Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs were superbly designed and decorated for purchase.  As if these were not enough chocolate innovation look out for her Fresh Baked Fridays, a chocolate lover’s dream. The chocolate studio is transformed into a chocolate bakery with complimentary hot cocoa and lots of chocolate desserts and pastries to choose from!

(Cocobel Chocolates)

Photo Credit: Cocobel Chocolate Facebook

(Cocobel Chocolate Bars)

Photo Credit: Cocobel Chocolate Facebook

(Fresh Baked Fridays)

Photo Credit: Cocobel Chocolate Facebook

Anyone interested in discovering more about Isabel can get on to her social media pages to be updated on future sales, new products, services and the next fresh baked event.

Website: http://www.cocobelchocolate.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Cocobel-Chocolate-253083854729802/

Instagram: cocobelchocolate

Email: cocobel@cocobelchocolate.com

Contact: (868) 622-1196

The National Aquatic Centre

I have developed a very acquired sense of creative design. It has become so odd that when I experience a designed space, fashion or art piece my mind discerns it’s creative value immediately. My brain literally screams “WOW!” in that fleeting moment of first impression (provided that I am impressed). I have also discovered that my brain’s interpretation of what makes something uniquely creative is heavily associated with the impact of how the designed space or thing makes me feel (I mean to say that the designed space or thing evokes some type of emotion rather it moves me).  Moreover,  the designer’s ability to manifest differentiation via harmonious alignment of the elements and the principles of design is a major contributing factor.  The National Aquatic Centre is a recently designed space that catches my attention in Balmain, Trinidad. Here are my casual design thoughts below.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The vision for this facility fell nothing short of creating an opportunity to develop the swimming potential of athletes to perform at national and international competitions, to support a high performance sport, to host  competitions at national and international levels, to promote sport tourism by offering training programs for international swim teams during winter months, to generate income and revenue for maintenance and upkeep of the facility. The  National Aquatic Centre has a seating capacity of 700 persons. It features a 50 meter swimming pool, a 50 meter warm up pool and a 25 meter diving pool. Additionally, there is an aqua gym, Turkish baths, a fitness room, a sauna, a cold water pool, concession outlets, ticket booths, VIP/Official, media, public seating and multipurpose rooms for event organizers. There is even an aqua park.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

There is a lot of use of glass, concrete and steel. There is an apparent mix of what may be modern, contemporary and  feng shui styles. Albeit the designers were faced with the task of creating a space that is kid friendly, slip and mildew resistant not to mention durable yet suitable for accommodating huge crowds of varying backgrounds. The facility is in a shade of reddish orange that is strong, warm, passionate and vibrant. This is the welcoming hue used on the exterior walls of the facility. The interiors like the lobby are kept more on the monochromatic and achromatic colour schemes. There is a viewing area here where one can see the tournaments through huge glass windows. The ceiling in the lobby has textured straight lines adorned with curves that include lighting systems. The seating arrangement in here does not feel static allowing guests to converse without feeling too formal. It is easy to enter spectator stands to view  and the view is not bad at all. The concession area and bathrooms are also close by. There is ample parking and security is available.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The building has rhythm and flow. The proportion and scale used is appropriate. There is use of symmetry. I like the  striking balance between vertical, horizontal and curved lines which soften any stark macho vibes from the concrete facility. The tall columns help to create an illusion of grandeur but the horizontal columns keeps the overall look grounded. The open air concept is modern but suitable for this tropical location. Visitors can bask in the natural backdrop of a lush green environment and the refreshing sight and sound of  divers splashing water as they take off to meet each other at the finish line. This ambience is quite therapeutic and invigorating at the same time for athletes getting in their frame of mind before plunging in the pool. There is a certain magic in the air where premeditated design philosophy and execution collide. The diagonal lines that form triangles add a transformational quality to this international water stage. It appears to be setting up a scene for athletes to journey into another phase of their swimming game.

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

 Already the centre has hosted national tournaments. This gives the secondary school circuit an empowering outlet for local students to thrive in another area not previously accessible at this caliber of competition. This year seven swim teams from North America have chosen this location to begin their winter based training camp. The Centre is doing exceptionally well however I have a few pet peeves with the design of this facility. On tournament days patrons may find themselves parking at more available parking spots which are further away from the facility.  I would suggest installation of a covered walkway because rain is not very scarce in Trinidad.  I would recommend installing some sort of screen or acrylic window treatments to keep the rain out from spectator stands. Rain  is often accompanied by wind (I do not know if it falls differently anywhere else?!). The pools are covered by a roof but the open concept design does not cater for the wind blowing in the rain to the stands or pools. If you are seated in public stands the rain will shower you with infinite blessings from every direction that our Caribbean breezes decide to blow their kisses (walk with a sweater, a rain coat and or a towel).

Photo Credit:

http://cgmnpagroup.com/home/cgml-cg-murray-ltd/

The National Aquatic Centre is an interestingly created space with a significant contribution to the design culture and architectural history of Trinidad and Tobago.  I can’t say enough how much I love the impact of design. I have already seen the way this created space has been a beacon of hope for the youth in Trinidad and Tobago as a place they can be proud of and one they can call their own. They are able to project themselves in a trajectory that is triumphant of building physically stronger, mutually respectful and team spirited young men and women in this nation. It is my only wish that the facility is thoroughly engaged to serve its purpose and that it is continuously maintained in the future. If you are ever in Trinidad and Tobago you should definitely visit and experience a swimming tournament here.

The T-Room Review

Have you been to the T-Room at Hotel Normandie located at Nook Avenue in St. Ann’s Trinidad?!  Peep their work on their social media sites. The T-Room is not a tea room so don’t get ahead of yourself. It’s a salon run by Tanja Banduwong, a German and her powerhouse creative team. Germany among other nations has understood creative culture and the value of it for their society. They have done exceptionally well in providing innovative contributions to the world in the past decades. They have taken the time to value learning about creative culture and design management and teaching this to their own citizens via various institutions in their society. Their whole creative thinking process, their mindset to progressive culture and education seem to be constantly evaluated and improved upon. They understand the critical success factors of creative culture to their country’s national development and diversification. This is one of the reasons I like the T-Room among others because here lies the most honest and authentic example of the birth and growth of a creative culture in a stable and eponymous field of hair styling.

 

Photo Credit:  The T-room Squad

https://www.facebook.com/pg/HairbyTanja/about/?ref=page_internal

Tanja is a qualified and skilled professional in hair and makeup styling. Although she is an educator in this field she has her fair share of stripes and stars to prove that she has the caliber of experience to take salon style in Trinidad to the next level. Her leadership style is open and collaborative without compromising respect among her team. She has managed to foster a work ethic and creative culture that is second to none in Trinidad. Although Tanja is the girl boss here she is far from being the stereotypical aloof “manager” as she is also on the floor “working it” with her squad. The team is constantly learning and expanding their skills. The squad is professional and the family type of camaraderie she has fostered with her staff is reflected in how they treat each other and  their clients. Tanja took the ladies of the T-Room to  Italy for training and development and creative culture immersion last year. A great experience in one of the more established fashion destinations in the world!  The ladies at the T- Room set the bar high as one of the few examples I have seen of women supporting and advocating for each other to be and do their best in the creative field. The T-Room is a fun and exciting salon where their love for what they do emanates from their A-class  haircuts, colour treatments, corrections, keratin treatments and styling services for men and women (and of course their overall aura and vibes).

Photo Credit: Pastel Hair

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Photo Credit: Undercut

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

 

Photo Credit: Braided by the T-Room Braid Bar at The Decibel Expo

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Photo Credit: Bridal Hairstyle (On Location)

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Every detail of design has been accounted for at the T-Room.  The logo is pretty cool too with strong lettering enclosed by a wreath like crown.  The salon even has a  mascot, his name is Chino. He is a well behaved groomed family member of the T-Room. The staff members come in all shapes and sizes with so much soul and passion for their job. They usually wear black but there is so much flexibility and personality that they get to play with outfitting and expressing themselves without the confines of a uniform. The interior design of the salon is another major appreciation factor about this creative space. People underestimate the role that design plays in our lives. For instance you may wear a particular silhouette, style, colour or fabric because it makes you feel some type of way. You may love a salon or spa because it makes you feel special. In these instances people neglect to ask themselves that one question, “why?”  Why do I like this space? What is it about this shirt or this hairstyle that makes me feel this way? Why do I want to cut or colour my hair? Why did I choose this cut or colour? Some of us are not even conscious of the power behind “wearapy” and design therapy which is a “must have” for any thriving creative lifestyle and culture.

Photo Credit: The T-Room Squad at Milan Fashion Week

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

 The interior design for the T-Room was done by Christy Maingot, a local interior designer of CMID in Trinidad. The T-Room looks like a combination of modern, contemporary styles and a bit of glam. This is no easy task for an interior designer to acquire the skill of mixing styles. Christy’s management of elements and principles of design in this space is magically harmonious. Although the salon works by appointment only, the spatial planning is sensible, on point with proportion and scale, rhythm and flow for easy breezy functioning during peak times.  The colour scheme looks more monochromatic as the shades of white, cream, brown, gold and bronze are well placed throughout the T-Room. The space is perceptually bigger with the application of vanity mirrors, white washed walls and the obvious reflection of light from the artificial light sources on the smooth and shiny surfaces. There is open and closed storage with shelving which makes the perfect balance in a room that is neither too warm nor too cold. The salon has a huge glass window so the positioning of a window bench with the view of the hotel lobby was an ideal use of space. The throw pillows are nice additions as their textures and patterns soften and accentuate the style and vibe in the salon without emasculating it. The use of leather (if not leather like upholstery) for salon chairs and benches appeals to the sleek modernist in all of us whilst being easy to maintain and durable.  Intriguingly, the flooring has a wood grain finish appearance and the ceiling hints to subtle industrial vibes. Another example of style mixing is seen here. The dynamic diagonal lines on the ceiling beams are painted in white to blend in but still stand out by creating some transformational, directional and exciting energy in the room. These diagonal lines form triangles which pair up with the geometric shapes of the overhead rectangle lighting to manage earthly grounded feelings.

CMID (Christy Maingot Interior Designs)

http://www.cmidinteriordesign.com/the-troom-salon/

 

CMID (Christy Maingot Interior Designs)

http://www.cmidinteriordesign.com/the-troom-salon/

 I love that this space is a haven where anyone, any age can feel safe to put themselves in the hands of internationally trained professionals. The T-Room squad allow their clients; to explore and experiment, to challenge style status quos, to redefine, to reclaim and redeem an unprofessed love and care for themselves that has been long overdue and often resonates in the mantra, “I am beautiful and I am ready to take on the world, now hear me roar.”

Photo Credit: Braided by the T-Room Braid Bar at The Decibel Expo

https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

The T-Room gets my 5 stars for excellent customer service, professionalism and creativity.

Keep up the fabulous work ladies !!!

To see more of T-Room

Visit their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HairbyTanja/

Visit their Instagram Page : https://www.instagram.com/thetroomsalon/?hl=en

Book an appointment: 1.868.235.3679

Email: tbanduwong@gmail.com

 

 

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen – The Review

If you are as selective as I am with what you expose your mind, your heart, your eyes and your taste buds to the world can still be a fabulous place, especially the world of culinary adventures. I have never really been a fan of Indian cuisine but I must admit that it has been something I grew to love over the last few years. I mean I am Trinidadian and us locals, we love to add a bit of heat to our food. Yet the difference in our palette may concern itself with adding pepper rather than flavour. In these instances we burn off our tongues so much that if we eat another bite we would be torturing ourselves. Yet still some of us  do it for the “thrill” I guess. However, Indian food has these spice infusions that play twister with our taste buds but still allows us to satiate our craving and return for seconds.  I found Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen at One Woodbrook Place. It’s a mini trip to modern India without leaving home sweet home, Trinidad.

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen Logo

Photo Credit: Svaada Indian Gourmet Kitchen Facebook Page

Svaada is the sweetest mix of modern and traditional interior design styles. The symmetrical balance in this space is impeccable. The use of natural and artificial light give birth to a warmth that beckons the “foodie” to curl up on their chair and dive into comfort. There are circle lights that rim the perimeter of the ceiling. There are incredible pendant lights that look lotus flowers which hang over the tables adorning and serving their due purpose. Rectangles and squares keep this space feeling stable, secure and the infiniteness of the circles evoke feelings of commitment, completeness with graceful, nurturing and soothing effects. The vertical lines make this kitchen appear taller. Effective horizontal lines broaden the space whilst drawing the lines of sight down to be restful and at ease for one to enjoy this cuisine experience.

The use of pops of colour amid the monochromatic colour scheme is quintessential. Red is fiery and full of love and passion. It is also a dominant colour used to stimulate the appetite. The setup of the furniture is a seating arrangement for families and groups to not only dine together but to engage in conversation more. Most of the materials used are wood, metal and glass. The surfaces are smooth and glossy as well as matte. The floor is smooth and feels like polished stone in a dark hue consistent with a dark ceiling which contrasts in texture with its matte finish.  The walls are off white and reign the bold red with the purity and innocence of this cream shade. The table tops are dark brown and match with the wooden chairs. Brown is often associated with stability and security hence its use here. The chrome and plastic chairs match up with the floor as well as the glass/steel combination of doors and windows.

An outsider’s view of the Svadda  Gourmet Indian Kitchen

Photo Credit: Svaada Indian Gourmet Kitchen Facebook

Colours, lighting fixtures, furniture is repeated throughout the space provoking an ebb and flow to be pure rhythm. The view from the glass doors and windows are the main focus points as are the kitchen and the kitchen island. Yes there is a kitchen island that happens to be a condiment station! The flavours range from sweet to tangy to spicy. They are quite intriguing and are anything but limitless. The proportion and scale to the design in this space works well the open plan concept.  Any room for negative space is avoided with proper placement of food culture photography on these walls. There is even a hot towel station (can you imagine my excitement at this little luxury?!).

Svaada’s staff members are attentive, polite and knowledgeable about their menu. The food is affordable and the wait time is not very long. Usually, one places their order and takes a seat. Then the staff wheels in your order if you are dining in and not taking out. You can have a hot towel to wipe your hands clean. Your meal will be served in traditional styled Indian wares that make a sumptuous picture for all of you “insta” foodie bloggers. I am in love with their naan bread particularly their aloo and cheese (I am pescetarian so I don’t eat meat).  Their naan is so soft and fluffy and really make you feel all warm and cosy. I have relished in their paneer as well which happens to be an exceptionally prepared dish. If you ever consider ordering from Svaada there is a complimentary bread that is served as an appetizer whilst you wait for your food (if you are Trinidadian and you are familiar with shrimp crackers it is basically the same texture except bigger without the shrimp flavour).

Chicken Tikka Masala, Chilli Paneer, Complimentary Bread, Aloo Naan, Cheese Naan

Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy 7

Svaada Gourmet Indian Kitchen may be the closest thing we have to a modern Mumbai Café. It is not overdone. The focus is on the quality of food, customer service and managing that “soon come” factor. This means their customers  are literally in a position where they almost indefinitely crave to return to try more of this “foodie experience”. They are open from Monday to Saturday at 11 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. On occasion they are open on Sundays. Parking is on the ground floor. Dining is casual so there is no need to get bothered to be fancy unless “being extra” is your specialty (then get on with your “extra” self hunny). They accept walk in customers and they are highly recommended for groups.  Their contact number is 1.868.628.5674. Also you can write to them at geevans@hotmail.com. You can follow them on facebook https://www.facebook.com/Svaadagourmetindiankitchen/

Maria’s Bakery – Designer’s View & Foodie’s Experience

 

Cookies

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery


Gluten Free Banana Bread

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery

Have you ever heard the expression “ kid in a candy store” ? I think it perfectly describes the expression of pure bliss on anyone’s face. I believe this statement totally sums up my expression when I enter a bakery.  I remember my childhood sweetened with memories of the bakery vans speeding through the community and my many jaunts to their store front. This was way before the café concept was introduced to Trinidad.  During my college days (aka the best days of my life #sororitylife) bakeries in Trinidad were not trending as much with the evolving generation. Café concept shops  emerged and this was the beginning of an almost never ending fascination. Entrepreneurs, artisans and chefs looked on at this and I could feel some creative genius bubbling.

Christmas Menu

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery

Fast forward to post college years and I find Trinidad’s creative entrepreneurs taking advantage of the opportunity to merge the public’s demand for fusion concepts (makes sense as we are a fusion culture after all).  The public wants to reconnect with something reminiscent of the past but something that is designed for modern day lifestyle (and instagram). I believe this is what makes Maria’s Bakery the crème de la crème in finding their business brand’s sweet spot and making it worth their while and yours too.

Traditional “Trini” Christmas Plates

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery

Bake and  Saltfish Buljol

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery

The Designer’s View

Please excuse me as I go on my interior design binge here (I can’t help it). Design is not just aesthetically pleasing but functional too. It is a critical success factor in my opinion as it is used to create a space that will be inhabited or experienced by one or more persons at any given time. Hence it is crucial to pay heed to design as it significantly impacts the lives of those who immerse themselves in any created place. My review is on Maria’s Bakery, the St. Augustine branch.  St. Augustine is the smallest of the branches. It is a convenient “grab and go” space. Each location carries their signature logo and look so the brand essence resonates with the customer when they do a “walk in” to any Maria’s Bakery branch. There is strategic placement of item display bins. The showcase is coordinated in a visually appealing manner and it allows easy movement of the lines of sight. I appreciate the thought given to spatial planning in this location as it relates to the customer service blueprint in terms of the customer who walks in, chooses an item, approaches the cashier, makes a purchase and departs.

Store Front of Maria’s Bakery , St. Augustine

Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy 7

Back End of Maria’s Bakery , St. Augustine

Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy 7

I welcome the mix of achromatic and monochromatic colour schemes as well as the pops of colour. The executed mix appeals to a warm vibe. Brown tones are masculine but not harsh as they transition and evoke feelings of strength and stability. This is seen in the menu board, the exterior signage, flooring and the cabinets.  I like the use of shades of white because whilst white is the colour of innocence and cleanliness this shade does not dare appear too clinical on walls and ceilings. The hue reflects light to make the cozy location appear a bit more spacious.

Obviously thought was given to the orientation of the building where the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Notably, the  glass doors are on the western side so the full brawn of the rising sun is not felt as much as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This  means a  cooler temperature is maintained during the daytime which is aided and abetted by air condition vents.  In a tropical climate  careful consideration to this is important so Maria’s Bakery does not  become weathered by sunlight exposure or become an oven (no pun intended).

Storage, is another design solution that minimizes the chances of  a warmer and  “boxed in” space. Sometimes too much clutter and or open storage in a space can make areas feel claustrophobic and appear even smaller. However,  Maria’s manages to strike the right balance as glass display bins and chillers keep items stored in sight  whilst opaque  cabinets manage to keep other items organized and out of sight. The artificial lighting sources are perfect  as they serve their function to see the displays, walking and working areas.  Nonetheless, there is so much natural light that comes in from the glass door and windows that  there is no need for too many additional light sources.

The view through glass doors of Maria’s Bakery , St. Augustine

Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy 7

Storage Cabinets inside of Maria’s Bakery , St. Augustine

Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy 7

I adore the strategic use and mix of architectural styles in this location. The minimal and modern styles of design for this space are  made more beautiful with the mountainous backdrop and surrounding views. There is great use of the elements of design like shapes and lines to project adjusted perceptions of space. The curved lines along the display showcase among other places  are organic and freeing which break up the structural aspects of the modular space.  I see balance in the vertical and horizontal lines used in store. The vertical lines make the space appear taller and the horizontal lines keep the space grounded evoking more intimate, comforting and safe vibes. I see more squares and rectangles in this location. I like the use of these geometric shapes as they stimulate feelings of trust, stability and equality.  The ceiling lights are squares. There are circles at the base of the display bins. The circle shape is feminine with engaging characteristics like love, power and energy. This shape also defines infinity and harmony which are needed in a space like this.

Display Bins, Bread Baskets and  Floor Finish of Maria’s Bakery , St. Augustine

 Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy 7

The finishes used in store appear more natural and give that modern, simple, authentic yet earthy vibe. The materials used seem to be  laminate, brick/stone, wood, concrete, glass and steel. This location feels like a fusion concept gourmet bakery as a sky high stone/brick finish “chimney”  alludes to that charm of a  rustic café/bakery without compromising the modern feel of minimalistic architecture. This tall projection also draws the line of sight upward. There is  ample use of reflective and matte finishes in store.  The rhythm and repetition flows throughout this space endorsing a feeling of completion. The ceilings are lighter toned which makes the space appear bigger. Even though the floor is a darker hue to the ceiling there is balance in a space that appears to recede yet advance for an intimate vibe. The flooring at Maria’s has a matte wood grain surface. There is a blend of matte and shiny surfaces on the interior at this establishment.  At the top of the display bins some woven baskets ( filled with Maria’s signature homemade bread) add texture to the smooth  surfaces of the countertops, display bins and floors. I love the way the principles and elements of design were used to create a space and make it into a created place that enhances the experience of everyone who walks into Maria’s Bakery.

The Foodie’s Experience

On another note Maria’s Bakery products are an even bigger part of design. I love their product design as each item is handcrafted with love and attention to detail. Their products comprise of sweet and savoury goods. Their offering ranges from traditional, seasonal to gourmet items. Maria’s Bakery is a great stop for bread, breakfast, lunch and snacks.  There are soups, sandwiches, pancakes, crepes and waffles.  One can enjoy items like corn soup, bake and shark as well as gourmet treats like red velvet cookies, chocolate croissants and nutella swirl cookies. This is bakery heaven, as one has in front of them, a paradise of almost infinite choices. Thankfully there is a menu on hand so your eyes can focus on that and make an informed decision rather than dart to and from all the delectable awesomeness in front of you. Also, there is a superb variety of pies, tarts, cupcakes and cakes to pair with tea, coffee and juice of your preference. Gluten free items are also available. One can find pastelles and even fruitcake during the holiday season.  Maria’s prices are reasonable considering the time, effort and creative thought put into the design of product, service and experience. Prices start at under TT$10 and increase depending on purchase. The staff is knowledgeable of the products and services that the business offers. Employees are attentive, courteous and professional. The wait time is not long and arduous.

Blueberry Crepes

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery

Oreo Brownies

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery

Currently there are three main locations for finding Maria’s Bakery; North, South and East. An additional location will be opened soon at Piarco’s International Airport. Meanwhile patrons can look to  Port of Spain at #5 Pole Carew Street in Woodbrook to find Maria’s Bakery. The telephone contact there is 223.5050. The next stop would be alongside Republic Bank’s University of the West Indies branch in St. Augustine. The final stop is at Southpark Plaza in San Fernando. The contact at the south branch is 221.2460.   Maria’s Bakery can be found online. There are website and social media channels to follow the latest buzz on what’s baking at Maria’s as well as what promotions and deals are in store for you!

Bacon and Eggs Breakfast Plate

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery

 

Waffles

Photo Credit: Maria’s Bakery

Find them on facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/Marias-Bakery-157399634340644/

Find them on their website at

http://mariasbakerytt.com/

Kaj Designs Hosts Legacy Atelier

Kaj Designs Hosts Legacy Atelier

 

Mid-Luxury Fashion House Bids Farewell To 2017 With Exclusive Retail Experience

 

 

KajFAB models strike a pose in front of the Kaj Flagship Boutique. From left to right: Fertility tank dress; long sleeved evening dress; silk kaftan; and maxi dress with ring accent. Makeup by Lyndy-Anne Parks of Lady Parks Makeup Studio. Photo courtesy Kyle Keens-Dumas of Konsortium Studios for Kaj Designs.

 

January 4, 2018 – Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago… Tobago’s premier mid-luxury fashion house, Kaj Designs, will usher in the New Year and 2018 Carnival seasons with an exclusive Kaj Legacy Atelier. KajFAB femmes will enjoy 50% off all legacy items as the brand celebrates the bold, signature flair gained over its disruptive 12-year history in Caribbean fashion. Featuring both limited edition and one-of-a-kind creations from several Kaj collections including the resort wear of Shore Culture and Tribu Sauvage, the atelier will run throughout the New Year and Carnival seasons by private viewing only, while stocks last.

 

Kaj’s provocative innovation, the Signature Halter Lounge Shuffle, was first shown as part of the Shore Culture runway presentation at the 10th Caribbean Fashionweek (CFW) in June 2010 in Kingston, Jamaica. Photo courtesy Pulse Investments Limited.

 

In June 2010, Kaj premiered the barefoot luxury of the Shore Culture collection at the 10th Caribbean Fashionweek (CFW) in Kingston, Jamaica. The CFW audience welcomed the scintillating charms, textures and tones of the Caribbean as it set sail with the first-ever Kaj Resort collection. The fashion house presented a sea of undulating fabrics in rich tones of magenta, fuchsia and teal with flowing, easy creations befitting a luxurious vacation of leisure. Reflecting the sun-kissed iridescence of its Caribbean landscape, the collection lavishly drapes the feminine contour in ribbons of ombré and tie-dyed chiffons, silk rayons, silk satins, organzas and crepe georgettes with subtle accents in suede, leather, taffeta, coque and pheasant plumes and coconut shell.  Designed with versatility and feminine comfort in mind, the effortless silhouettes of Kaj’s Shore Culture collection can be worn in the day and night, ideal for festive New Year and Carnival functions.

 

A captive audience was treated to the majesty of Kaj’s sheer strapless Bohemian lounge dress, with wooden beaded fabric accents, at the 2010 CFW during the Shore Culture presentation. Photo courtesy Pulse Investments Limited.

 

In June 2011, Kaj marked an historic milestone with its launch in the French Caribbean and the placement of the Kaj Resort line at Guadeloupe’s exclusive Caribbean boutique, KOD. This move established KOD as the first retailer of the Kaj brand in the region. In February 2012, Kaj received one of its highest honours as it was selected to represent the Caribbean in an initiative of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) entitled Caribbean Collections. This initiative sought to create opportunities for access to European markets via participation in the British Council and the British Fashion Council’s inaugural International Fashion Showcase for Autumn/Winter (A/W) 2012 during London Fashion Week (LFW). For the label’s LFW debut, Shore Culture was favoured as it featured at an LFW-produced exhibition held at The Charing Cross Hotel while select pieces featured at a private showing at the Corinthia Hotel.

 

Folded envelope tunic and Bermuda shorts from the 2010 Kaj Resort collection, Shore Culture. Makeup by Lyndy-Anne Parks of Lady Parks Makeup Studio. Photo courtesy Kyle Keens-Dumas of Konsortium Studios for Kaj Designs.

 

A trailblazer in Caribbean fashion, Kaj boasts several accomplishments that are irrefutable Caribbean fashion firsts. In a pioneering move to capture international markets, the Tobago fashion house made history with the May 2013 launch of its sophomore resort collection, Tribu Sauvage, in USA and Singapore. Kaj was the first Tobago brand at ENK International’s exclusive fashion tradeshow, Intermezzo Collections, a staple of the US fashion trade circuit. With its humble Intermezzo debut, Kaj successfully captured the attention of New York’s leading fashion industry publication, The Daily Front Row. Amidst more than 900 of the world’s foremost fashion brands, Kaj was featured in TheDailyFrontRow.com’s haute highlights alongside Alice and Olivia, Nicole Miller, L.A.M.B. and Rebecca Minkoff.

 

The KajFAB safari of the Kaj Resort collection, Tribu Sauvage, featured on the catwalk at the inaugural Fashion Festival Bali in August 2013 at the luxurious Stones Hotel in Bali’s Legian region. Featured is Kaj’s maxi dress with ring accent. Photo courtesy Anggara Mahendra

 

Later that same month, the brand led as the first Caribbean brand to exhibit and show at the international fashion tradeshow, BLUEPRINT, during Singapore’s fashion week, Asia Fashion Exchange (AFX). With its runway debut at BLUEPRINT, Kaj’s creations of bold tribal infusions set against a backdrop of wild animal and camouflage prints stood out among the pervading contemporary Asian aesthetic.

 

Kaj’s trendsetting camo raglan tunic with daring waist-high side slits, of the Tribu Sauvage resort collection, on the runway at the 2013 Fashion Festival Bali at the Stones Hotel, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel. Also featured is Kaj’s faux-pocket maxi skirt. Photo courtesy Anggara Mahendra.

 

These favoured pieces later graced the runway at the inaugural Fashion Festival Bali (TFFB) in yet another daring move by the fashion house to forge ahead in infiltrating South Asian markets. On August 31, 2013, in the closing show presented by Indonesia TATLER, Kaj brought its signature flair to the TFFB runway. The high profile, 7-day event took place at the lavish Stones Hotel in Bali’s Legian region. Set against the breath-taking backdrop of one of the world’s leading tourist destinations, TFFB attracted an exclusive audience of media, fashion professionals and enthusiasts, leisure travellers and Asian Pacific celebrities and socialites including Michael and Lindy Klim and Casey Burgess.

 

The bold simplicity of Kaj’s Tribu Sauvage resort collection was captured during a 2015 Global Runway promotional photo-shoot on location in Verona, Italy. Featured are Kaj’s magyar tee with tribal pocket accents and its classic trousers with pocket accents. Photo courtesy Global Runway.

 

With a steadfast focus to establish Kaj as the Caribbean’s foremost mid-luxury fashion brand, the fashion house embarked on a strategic mission to penetrate European markets. This led to the launch of the Kaj Resort line at the Martinique-based online boutique, Kameri, in September 2014. In Nov 2014, the brand’s CEO, Liza Miller, was one of three female entrepreneurs selected to be part of exporTT’s gender programme participating in the CARTFUND French Caribbean Outermost Region (FCOR) trade mission alongside nine other Trinidad and Tobago companies. This opened the door to fourteen B2B meetings with buyers and other trade partners that generated ten trade leads. This was closely followed by the brand’s January 2015 launch at the Martinique-based boutique, Pygmées. By the last quarter of 2015, Kaj was introduced to the thriving UK luxury fashion market via its distribution with the London-based online boutique, Global Runway, coupled with an advertising campaign in Britain’s lavish specialist consumer magazine, Destinations Weddings and Honeymoons Abroad (DWHA). Kaj further strengthened its market presence as DWHA’s exclusive international fashion brand and partner at two of London’s leading trade events, The National Wedding Show (TNWS) and the World Travel Market London (WTM London). This was accompanied by Kaj’s retail placement at Guadeloupe’s exclusive boutique, Jheipour.

 

The sensual tribal infusions of Kaj’s long sleeved evening dress in a taupe, cream and black print captivate in the streets of New York City during a 2015 Global Runway promotional photo-shoot of the Tribu Sauvage resort collection. Photo courtesy Global Runway.

 

Kaj will commemorate this legacy of cutting edge creative excellence, fine quality and timeless luxury with its ongoing Kaj Legacy Atelier. KajFAB femmes may experience the exclusive versatility and impeccable finish of the Kaj Designs brand, shopping limited edition classic resort as well as one-of-a-kind legacy pieces including the brand’s signature innovation, the Shuffle. Join the Kaj Legacy Atelier Facebook (FB) event at http://bit.ly/KajLegacyAtelier or visit Kaj on FB at fb.me/KajDesignsLIVE or on Twitter and Instagram @KajDesignsLIVE to stay in the KajFAB know. For more information, email KajLegacy@estuaryPR.com.

 

Kaj’s exhibitor’s booth at the fashion tradeshow, BLUEPRINT, during Singapore’s fashion week, Asia Fashion Exchange (AFX). Photo courtesy estuary PR.

 

WHAT:              Kaj Legacy Atelier

WHO:                 Kaj Designs

WHEN:             Throughout the New Year and 2018 Carnival seasons, while stocks last.

WHERE:          By private viewing only.

PAYMENT:     Cash and cheque payments accepted.

 

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Liza Miller, Managing Director

estuary PR Limited

Phone: (868) 367-5295

Email: liza@estuaryPR.com

www.estuaryPR.com