My name is Gail David and my kids are the main reason I started my food business. I had my first child, a son, when I was 14 years old and my second child, a daughter, when I was 17. I went into this business to make sure that my children don’t go through what I had to go through. I realised there was no turning back. I had to set a good example for them so they would not make the same mistakes that I made.
I always loved doing food because I grew up with a Tobago heritage. I got into the business and it carried me far. I love the food industry and everything in it, which even made me bring in my son who is now 17. In fact, he is the cook right now in the kitchen. His name is Shane David and I taught him the trade. He also wants to open a food business right here in Trinidad.
I love my country. I am staying in Trinidad and will not leave my country because here we still have neighbours. It isn’t just people. You can still go to your neighbour and ask for something and say, “I will bring it back later for you,” and trust me, it is not so outside in the States. Everyone is for themselves. I have experience with that when I went abroad once and I prefer my country any day.
I choose my country because it is magnificent. We could walk home when the sun is shining and when the rain is falling. The citizens are a happy people. We have our problems, but we are generally a happy people. We have a little crime situation now but I believe we could get through it with the communities coming together. It is a lovely country to come to because of the happy spirit. Don’t talk about we Carnival! Everything going good for us.
Business in Trinidad is sometimes fast and other times slow and that is why we need the tourism industry to improve. We need the tourists to come to get lovely good food. I specialise in any creole food. I can do Chinese, Indian curry, Creole, anything. I can also do outside dishes like Mexican chicken and Arabic dishes like Musaca pie. I can do anything and I do it here.
At month end when a lot of people come, I do the side dishes. I also do dishes like crab and dumpling, Tobago dishes, barbeque lamb and others at lunch time. For breakfast we do the local dishes like salt fish and buljol, smoke herring, fry fish fillet and all these little different things. We have natural bake that is hand kneaded and we also have our local bakery breads that we also sell.
Gail: Trinidadians like “mamaguy”
I believe I have a good relationship with my customers. Trinidadians like “mamaguy”. They like names like “Darling”, “Lover”, “Baby” and others. They really like you to call them these names. You have to have a good relationship with your customers because without them you don’t have a business. So you must show your customers that side of you and that always keeps them coming.
At one time a customer told me that I carried her back home. She was an old lady about 87 years old. She said I carried her back to when she was a child when her mother got up and made a hot cup of tea for her with a nice coconut bread straight from the oven and her salt fish buljol. She was a child again.
This gift is definitely going on to my generations. My advice to young people working in Trinidad is to stay in your country. Build your country. At least anywhere you go in the world you’ll know you have somewhere to come back to. The country is a welcoming country. So stay, build and don’t give up! Even though you make mistakes at times don’t give up because at the age of 17 I had two kids and I did not give up. Right now I have six children but I can take care of each and every one of them and send them to school. So don’t give up, never give up cause you can make it.
November 2012 – Issue 2 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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