Tavel Bristol-Joseph’s journey from Guyana to Austin restaurant Canje

Walk into Caribbean cafe Canje in East Austin, and you quickly observe the potted vegetation dangling from the superior ceiling like tropical earrings the palm fronds and banana leaves painted on the walls the woven chairs and small-back bar stools and a bumping soundtrack emitting tunes from musicians like Bermudian reggae artist Collie Buddz.

But the moment the foods arrives, the flavors monopolize your notice. The scotch bonnet burn up of jerk chicken, the depth of wintertime spices in a tingly wild boar pepperpot, the vibrant inexperienced sauce that enlivens huge prawns the measurement of smaller plantains. 

These are the flavors chef-associate Tavel Bristol-Joseph grew up in close proximity to, if not accurately with. The Georgetown, Guyana, indigenous, who opened Canje final tumble with his associates in the Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group, seldom had the opportunity in his youth to dive into aromatic curry chicken or his country’s staple pepperpot. 

Canje signifies a triumphant return to a residence that was small on celebration — the prospect for the chef to reclaim a phantom element of his past as he carries on to make a profession as a single of the very best cooks in the state.

A time of hopelessness

Bristol-Joseph spent most of his childhood in excessive poverty, his food plan mainly consisting of foraged coconuts and plantains and vegetable chunks distributed by the government. His family members could pay for to buy rooster or floor beef about as soon as a month the rest of the time, they made do with what was low-priced and quickly accessible. 

So when Bristol-Joseph, whose 6-foot-5-inch body occupies his kitchen’s doorway the way his warm conviviality fills the dining place, thinks back to the foods of his childhood that served as Canje’s inspiration, it is the food stuff he could odor but not taste. His tale does not involve the rhapsodic tales of gardening with his grandmother or fishing with his father that populate some chef’s biographies.