The Resto Manifesto | What's all the fuss “a bao” ?
Welcome to Cacique’s Resto Manifesto, a well-seasoned, impassioned guide to The Bahamas’ rapidly evolving culinary scene. There’s no shortage of food-focused, travel Instagram feeds that will direct you to the tastiest, most photo-ready oyster shucked, rooftop venue in cities like Paris, London or New York. But when you’re faced with the make-or-break dilemma of where to wine and dine in The Bahamas - a destination less travelled by trustworthy critics - the recommendations become all the more vital.
In this episode, we are galavanting the streets of Nassau in search of the gleefully refurbished horse-trailer that houses ‘The New Duff’ — a mobile eatery that has offered tasteful food for thought whilst creating something quite steamy! After a long stint in Singapore, epicure Kendrick Delaney, set out to reimagine the Bahamian favorite, Guava Duff. With a stroke of Chinese wisdom, he brought to our curious shores, the idea of ‘steamed duff’ merging the traditional Chinese method of steamed buns with a local recipe. Chef-manned food carts promising restaurant-worthy meals are a common sight in foodie cities but a fairly new thing on our budding atoll. Whichever quadrant of New Providence you find yourself in, you won’t have to wait much longer for a retro, bike-propelled ‘New Duff’ cart to take up residence and begin dishing out some island-infused, asian favorites! With the freedom of an ever-changing setting, the redolent trailer will surpass all expectations and with the addition of an adventurous, savory menu, will become your go-to for a midday refuel or afternoon sugar craving.
Meals on wheels — That’s what all the fuss is a bao !
Cacique. Where did your inspiration come from ?
Kendrick. I lived in Singapore for a number of a years running a culinary school. ‘The New Duff’ is absolutely a response to my time in Asia - it is a merging of Bahamian cuisine and traditional Asian cooking styles. The underlying motivation for this business venture unfortunately grew out of sad beginnings. At the time, my Mum needed surgery and so I turned to cooking! All of that mixed together formed a ‘perfect storm’ for business development! With new experiences and ideas I wanted to provide Bahamians with increased access to international cuisine. I had a great product but no location or store front. The food truck was born out of necessity. I thought back on the Asian ‘tuk-tuks’ / street food and decided to give these steaming duffs some retro wheels!
C. Bao in the islands . what Bahamian ingredients vs international ingredients do you love to integrate ?
K. Bao is uncharted territory for most Bahamians. The idea of steaming buns seems completely odd initially but once you’ve given it some thought the soft, fluffy dough seems to be a perfect match for a generous slathering of guava rum sauce! That’s one of the best parts of The New Duff — we fuse international concepts with all things Bahamian. Ingredients like fresh, grated ginger popular in eastern cultures has made its way into our ginger pork buns!
C. how did you get into food & the restaurant world ?
K. Apparently, I was born to cook… or so my mother says. Though I'm not a heavy eater, I’ve always seen food and cooking as a form of self-expression. It feels innate to my being. After graduating top of both my high school and college in Culinary Arts, I went to Johnson & Wales university where my degree morphed into an MBA and led me along a path to becoming the Dean of a Culinary School in Singapore. Given that Bahamians are growing more and more sophisticated in their desire for different, more adventurous food, I have tried to create a product that speaks to this shift. We sell an experience complete with great customer service, impeccable branding and friendly smiles! At the very core, we are determined to provide consistent, high quality food to our patrons!
C. Where and how do you decide what to incorporate in your menu ? Does the menu mimic seasons / availability of ingredients ?
K. I believe that evolution is entirely necessary and basic part of business. Bahamians are creatures of habit and love familiar flavors which was definitely part of the direction we took with The New Duff’s menu. We often start with a familiar dish and then consider how this could be re-imagined. For example, using split pea soup and making it a filling for Chinese wontons! We are keen to hear our customers feedback and if it’s well received, the item becomes a regular on our menu. Our fried sugar banana duff started as an experiment but became a permanent fixture on the menu. Last year during the fall and winter months we created seasonal specialities. We had spiced pumpkin duff during the fall and a cherry amaretto duff over the Christmas period. Both were very popular and all necessary ingredients could be found on island.
C. how do you go about sourcing your ingredients ?
K. Our mission is to keep our food sourcing a local as possible. This isn’t always possible especially for things like fresh guavas as very few farmers have large enough crops to support demand year round. We’ve recently partnered with a few Bahamian grassroots companies to obtain as many local ingredients as possible for our menus. Our equipment however is imported from places like China and Singapore. Can’t have bao without the traditional steaming baskets!
C. How has the introduction of gourmet food trucks spiced up nassau’s food scene ?
K. There are some wonderful mobile trucks and vendors in the Bahamas that definitely played a role in inspiring me to join the ranks. POW, Conch and Cone and Pulply were all doing their thing when I first conceived the bicycle cart idea. I think it’s been a great addition to the culinary landscape of the country too and we’re not just looking to compete locally. For my brand specifically, the creativity that our food cart and trailer has inspired in young food & beverage entrepreneurs has been amazing to say the least. We’re excited to have added to the array of dining options here in Nassau!
C. What has been a very successful dish ? Do you think your clientele respond better to a re-imagined bahamian dish or international favorites ?
K. Many of our dishes have been very successful and we’ve been really pleased with how the public responded to them but we are especially proud of the savory, stuffed buns. The frontrunners are the curried mutton and the ginger pork! I worked with my Mom to create flavors reminiscent of food found in Bahamian fare. We’ve found that Bahamians are generally more responsive to re-imagined local dishes than popularized international ones.
CACIQUE CULINARY EXPERIENCES
For us at Cacique, we believe in pushing boundaries - be it food, art, music or alternate spaces. That is why we are always on the look-out for new, breathtaking venues to make experiences and tastebuds come alive. For enquiries about The New Duff or culinary experiences or events with Cacique International, please feel free to contact us.