Toya’s passion is for the Caribbean food of her childhood and, after leaving behind a career in fashion to foster her love of cooking, she now hosts chef’s table experiences in an intimate venue in Brooklyn.
Who or what inspired your love of food?
I would say my brother, grandparents and parents inspired my love of food. In my family, food has always connected us with each other. It’s also my happy space and I want to share the joy of family and food with others because it’s a great way to build relationships.
What’s the thing you like most about hosting your guests?
The joy on my guests faces when they have that first bite of my food and connecting with my guests over food, wine and ambience.
What new flavours or cuisines are you hoping to try this year?
I want to touch base with more traditional dishes and introduce different levels of spice. I feel like when people hear the word spicy they automatically feel intimidated because hot peppers are associated with an uncomfortable sensation. I want people to understand that all hot peppers are not that scary. When prepared the right way hot peppers release a euphoric floral essence.
Where in the world have you tasted the best food?
Ooo this is hard to pinpoint because I’ve had some incredible experiences at quite a few places, but Jamaica, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand are some of the best places for food. The freshness and attention to detail is beyond.
Which ingredient would you take with you to a deserted island?
Sea salt, that’s all you need.
How has the social climate of the past two years affected you professionally?
Well it gave me time to reflect as a chef and understand where I want to be in the next 2 years. Things were a complete emotional rollercoaster, but when you truly love something you do whatever it takes to keep pushing forward. I don’t know what the future holds, but what I do know is I am going to do whatever it takes to provide my guests with an incredible experience filled with love, joy and laughter.