• feedthemalik

Interview With Camella's Kitchen: Keeping it Fresh, Spicy & Delicious

Updated: Jun 27

Food is powerful. It brings us together, teaches us about culture, tells historical tales, and serves as the focal point for so much of our social lives. Karen and Nyana, mother-daughter duo, co-owners, and founders of Camella's Kitchen understand this power. Through the freshest sauces, cakes, and spice blends, they continue a family tradition of food entrepreneurialism through Camella's Kitchen, founded in 2019. As they noted during our interview, "cooking is in our blood." Camella, the brand's namesake and Nyana's grandmother (Karen's mother) had a cottage food business in Trinidad and passed her food knowledge down to Karen. In turn, Karen shares that knowledge with her daughter, Nyana, and us through Camella's Kitchen.

Listen to Nyana and Karen's interview below, where they dive into intuitive cooking, owning a business as women of color, bootstrapping, sustainability, and "pivoting" during COVID. They also drop a bit of knowledge about staple dishes of Trinidadian cuisine for those of us (like myself) who are still learning about Trinidadian and Caribbean foods.

Interview: Click to play

In addition to many laughs and a longing for fresh coconut milk, Karen and Nyana's interview left me wondering about minority- and women-owned businesses and their traditional lack of access to outside capital. Limited investment and loan funding are surely a hindrance to founding and running a successful business in a competitive market. However "bootstrapping," or founding a business without taking on loans-- as Karen and Nyana did and so many other women and minority owners are forced to do-- provokes many questions related to this global economic crisis. Foremost in my mind, if a small business has limited overhead costs and no debts, is it better equipped to "pivot" and survive a prolonged period of slowing sales?

There is no clear answer to that question. As we look ahead to a post-COVID future, it remains to be seen whether businesses like Camella's Kitchen will thrive or suffer as our economy attempts to recover from a deep period of disruption. What I do know is that Camella's, like many independent food businesses, was founded in a home kitchen on the basis of food knowledge passed down through generations. That knowledge is valuable, and in this case very, very tasty.

Want to shop Camella's Kitchen? Check out their online store.

Interested to learn more about how to use their products? See Nyana and Karen's posts from the kitchen for recipes. Alternately, try my Herb Roasted Chicken Recipe using Camella's Island Herb Blend or get some creative ideas for using Camella's Mango Pepper Sauce!

To learn more about the DC area community supported agriculture (CSA) program noted in the interview, check out Three Part Harmony Farm.

To try the DMV area Caribbean food restaurants recommended during the interview, check out Kingston Arbor in Hyattsville or Cane on H Street in DC.

Any views expressed here do not represent those of people or organizations that the author may be professionally or personally associated with |

© Feed the Malik 2018