Photo courtesy of Keshia Sakarah


‘Race and Gender Speak to The Deeper Issue’ – Keshia Sakarah, Founder of Caribe’


On matters of inclusion and diversity, Caribe’ chef and founder Keshia Sakarah speaks her mind. Her restaurant Caribe’ was founded with the goal of exploring and celebrating the diverse cuisines of the Caribbean, while her intimate Baruru Supperclubs blend education with specialities from different islands each night. We spoke to her about her experience of working as a woman of colour in the restaurant industry, how race and gender intersect, and its deeper implications.

As a small, female-owned business, what barriers have you come across?

What stands out is the resistance to promoting Caribbean food outside of the summer months and reducing these foodways to a trend, rather than respecting them as they are, a part of someone else’s culture that is enjoyed all year round.

In some instances, I have felt that I have not been supported and been dealt with disproportionately in comparison to others when dealing with landlords and lease issues.

As race and gender issues are intertwined it is very hard to be specific as to whether this is exclusively about my gender. However, I feel these examples speak to the deeper issue of coloniality, which informs some people’s approach to me as a Caribbean woman.


What are the systems you see that make it hard for female business owners?

I feel that the media and publishing have created a literal ‘white fence’ that gate-keeps female chefs, especially those of non-British origins, from breaking through. We see this through the minimal opportunities and visibility of many amazing, talented people whose work is not recognised so widely, or is only done so if they have massive followings.

How have you navigated some of these issues? 

I feel the only way you can succeed is by staying focused on your goals and purpose as a chef or entrepreneur. By being persistent and consistent with what you are doing, you can build your own, engaged audience, and it will be recognised for what you do well over time.


What are the things you have put in place to create a better working environment?

Keep the space creative for the team, as you want them to feel invested in and that they are getting something out of their work for themselves. For example, working on menu ideas together, recipe development within the kitchen or other ideas for how the space can work better or more comfortably or efficiently.

Creating a safe space for women, especially those of non-British heritage, also helps. This was a conscious choice to create a space that I would like to work in, as a woman of Caribbean heritage – I thought back to my early job roles and how I wanted to feel.

Joining groups within the food community, such as Be Inclusive Hospitality, has been great as it has allowed me to connect with others who specifically understand the challenges I face.

Keshia Sakarah is chef-owner of Caribe’ and Baruru Supperclub.

Anna Sulan Masing is a London-based writer and academic, and a co-founder of Sourced Journeys and Cheese Magazine. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Resy, too.