Time for Taste
Taste of Haiti will display the value of taking time in cooking. Saturday's event also features music, art, games and much more.
At five years old, Wideline Premilien would volunteer to help her parents cut raw meat in hopes she could smuggle a few scraps and, using an empty Carnation Milk can as her pot, practice cooking the meat herself.
She’d been closely watching her parents cook since she was a toddler, memorizing the intricate process Haitians use to slice and wash the meat for optimal marinating, something the country’s cuisine is known for.
“If I knew you were cooking, I was there,” she says. “Cooking is in my blood.”
Premilien, owner and chef at Bistro Paradise in MetroWest, hopes people come to experience Haiti’s methodical cooking practices at the second annual Taste of Haiti Orlando Culinary, Art and Music Festival from 2-8 p.m. Saturday, May 5 at Gaston Edwards Park in Ivanhoe Village. Besides food and live cooking demonstrations, there will be artists, including Beethova Obas, who will perform Creole jazz music; participants dressed in vibrant, traditional Haitian costume called Karabela; and games, such as dominoes contests—a Haitian favorite.
Premilien hopes people who come to the event will add Haitian restaurants to their list of food haunts. Haitian food stands out because “we take our time to season the meat to make sure that when you eat it, you’re like ‘Good Lord, this is good!’ ” she says, adding that its African and French influences mixed with its Hispanic roots also makes it unique.
Premilien’s family first realized her potential as a chef when she successfully butchered a chicken at age six. Her parents weren’t happy that she did this unsupervised but when they tasted the meat and realized she followed every step in the process—defeathering, deveining, washing it with salt and lemon and marinating it—they were impressed. When she moved to Orlando at age 10, she happily accepted all household cooking responsibilities. A few years later, people who’d tasted her cooking began asking her to cater their events.
As an adult, she transformed her garage into a professional kitchen and sold food to her friends and folks who had heard of her culinary flair. She would host tasting parties every other week with music and dancing so she could test new dishes and hone her craft. In 2016, she opened her restaurant, Bistro Paradise, where she serves dishes ranging from fried goat to stewed chicken to sautéed tilapia.
Taste of Haiti organizer Fabie Reid says Premilien is one of several chefs who will have offerings at the event.
“With this event, you can explore Haiti in a new light,” she says. “We bring you the cultural aspects and, of course, the food.”
For tickets and more information about Taste of Haiti Orlando, click here.