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It was just last week, ex­ec­u­tive chef and founder at Jaf­fa Restau­rant at the Queen's Park Oval Joe Brown held a fundrais­er on the Di­vali hol­i­day to raise funds for a fel­low cy­clist who was in­jured.

Yes­ter­day, on­ly four days lat­er Brown, 63, died at the Er­ic Williams Med­ical Sci­ences Com­plex while re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for crit­i­cal in­juries, sus­tained in an ear­ly morn­ing ac­ci­dent, which al­so claimed the life of British ex­pat and BP em­ploy­ee Joan­na Banks, who was killed at the scene.

Around 7 am yes­ter­day, a mo­torist ploughed in­to a group of cy­clists from the Slip­stream Cy­cling Club, of which Brown and Banks were a part. The ac­ci­dent oc­curred along the shoul­der of the east­bound lane of the Beetham High­way.

Eye­wit­ness­es de­scribed it as a scene out of a movie, see­ing bikes, blood, and bod­ies every­where.

As news trav­elled of the cham­pi­on chef's death, trib­utes be­gan to pour in from those in the hos­pi­tal­i­ty in­dus­try, restau­rant own­ers, fel­low chefs, and the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty.

In a re­lease, The Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce of Trinidad and To­ba­go (Am­cham T&T) ex­tend­ed its con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of both Brown and Banks and wrote: “Joe was one of a kind and helped Am­cham T&T a lot over the years. Many of you would be reg­u­lar Jaf­fa pa­trons and who could for­get the awe­some goat burg­ers that he cre­at­ed and served at our 25th an­niver­sary par­ty last year.”

Close friend and founder of Restau­rant Week, Shi­ra Mo­hammed told Sun­day Guardian, Brown was not just a fan­tas­tic chef but al­so an in­cred­i­ble ath­lete. When it came to cy­cling she said he had done pos­si­bly some of the hard­est rid­ing races any­one could think about in­ter­na­tion­al­ly, and to think that he passed at the hands of an ac­ci­dent was just quite up­set­ting.

“The restau­rant fra­ter­ni­ty has lost a fan­tas­tic chef, his ab­sence would def­i­nite­ly be felt. He was in­stru­men­tal in quite a few ini­tia­tives, even be­fore restau­rant week be­gan,” she said.

Mo­hammed ex­plained Brown was part of the Fan­tas­tic Six—a sim­i­lar culi­nary event to that of restau­rant week, where some of the top restau­rants in T&T got to­geth­er and host­ed it.

“He was very in­stru­men­tal in all things re­gard­ing food and din­ing in Trinidad. Oth­er than just be­ing a great chef he was in­stru­men­tal in en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to dine out and stir­ring up the cul­ture of din­ing out.”

'Grand fa­ther of fine din­ing'

Chef Ja­son Pe­ru worked close­ly with Brown, first be­com­ing ac­quaint­ed with him when he was hired by Brown as a ju­nior chef to work at his restau­rant at the time, called Soli­mar. Pe­ru then sub­se­quent­ly worked again with Brown at Jaf­fa for a pe­ri­od of time.

De­scrib­ing Brown as the “grand fa­ther” of fine din­ing in T&T, Pe­ru said Brown was re­spon­si­ble for plac­ing T&T on the culi­nary map in terms of in­ter­na­tion­al cui­sine.

“This all start­ed when Brown was the ex­ec­u­tive chef at the La Bou­can Restau­rant at Hilton Trinidad, in the late 80s in­to 90s. Be­cause of his con­tri­bu­tion there, he re­al­ly el­e­vat­ed fine din­ing in T&T. Be­fore that chefs and fine din­ing wasn't seen as any­thing too pop­u­lar in T&T. And I think be­cause of that con­tri­bu­tion he made, peo­ple be­gan to re­alise that Joe was cer­tain­ly a pi­o­neer at what he did,” Pe­ru says.

He al­so par­tic­u­lar­ly re­mem­bered Brown for two things, be­ing a “bull-head­ed” chef, fixed in his ways when it came to his culi­nary craft and skill; and the chef who nev­er wast­ed food.

“I re­mem­ber him bring­ing in a nine­ty-five pound fish one day and he deboned it. Af­ter he deboned it, he took the meat from it and he said, 'I'm go­ing to make fish sticks out of this.' Af­ter that he said, 'I want you to scrape every last piece of fish flesh off the bones, we're go­ing to make fish cakes with it.' And when you fin­ish with the bones, we're go­ing to make stock (fish stock), and when you're fin­ished, we're go­ing to take the head and boil it down and make soup—noth­ing should ever go to waste.'

“We would al­ways ro­tate and try to max­imise prof­its as best as we could by us­ing every last bit of in­gre­di­ents in the restau­rant and dis­play­ing it in a cre­ative man­ner,” Pe­ru re­called.

He said a big part of the suc­cess of Brown's restau­rants hap­pened be­cause he was al­ways right there cook­ing.

Fel­low chef Ed­ward In­gle­field said al­though he did not have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence with Brown, he re­calls when he was a stu­dent at the T&T Hos­pi­tal­i­ty and Tourism In­sti­tute (TTHTI), he did a small func­tion with Brown as part of his in­tern­ship. “Just be­ing in the in­dus­try, Brown's name would al­ways come up as one of the sort of 'stand out chefs.'

“It is a huge loss, he is one of the big per­son­al­i­ties in the in­dus­try for sure, and a re­al stal­wart so it is a re­al loss for the in­dus­try.”

Ar­rive Alive ded­i­cates Nov 18 ob­ser­vance to chef

At this year's com­mem­o­ra­tion of World Day of Re­mem­brance for road traf­fic vic­tims, which will be cel­e­brat­ed on No­vem­ber 18, 2018, Ar­rive Alive pres­i­dent Sharon In­gle­field said the day's ob­ser­vance would be ded­i­cat­ed to Brown.

Brown who en­tered the culi­nary busi­ness in 1971, was Eng­lish born but a true “Tri­ni” at heart. Hav­ing earned his qual­i­fi­ca­tions from City & Guilds and Ger­man Meis­ter­prü­fung.

He gained his stripes in cui­sine trav­el­ling the globe per­form­ing his culi­nary skill. His “sweet hand” took him to Ger­many, Switzer­land, Is­rael, Lesotho, Kenya, Venezuela, Puer­to Ri­co, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Ko­rea to name a few coun­tries.

For mas­ter­ing in­ter­na­tion­al stan­dards in culi­nary arts, Brown was award­ed sev­er­al no­table ac­co­lades in­clud­ing gold medals at shows in Frank­furt, Basel, Tel Aviv, Sin­ga­pore, Puer­to Ri­co, al­so earn­ing the “Chef of the Year ti­tle in Trinidad in 2006. Brown al­so served in the ca­pac­i­ty of a coach, with the Trinidad Na­tion­al Culi­nary Team from 2000-2006. He was al­so a mem­ber of the Gas­tron­o­my Cor­don Noir.

 

Sinanan: Pol­i­cy for rid­ers safe­ty com­ing

Works and Trans­port Min­is­ter Ro­han Sinanan said on No­vem­ber 15, 2018, a note would be go­ing to Cab­i­net for a pol­i­cy that the min­istry had been work­ing on for the last year, for the cy­cling fra­ter­ni­ty.

When con­tact­ed for com­ment on the is­sue of safe­ty re­gard­ing cy­clists us­ing the na­tion's roads, Sinanan said the pol­i­cy would have come out of sev­er­al con­sul­ta­tions held with var­i­ous cy­cling clubs since 2017.

Asked what would the pol­i­cy en­tail, al­though Sinanan could not go in­to much de­tail, he did in­di­cate it would ad­dress how cy­clists are treat­ed on the na­tion's roads and would pro­pose laws in re­gard to their pro­tec­tion.

“So, we are do­ing a pol­i­cy which will go to Cab­i­net on Thurs­day for ap­proval and then it would go to Par­lia­ment and this would give them (cy­clists) that right that they de­serve to have when they use the roads,” said Sinanan.

He point­ed out the coun­try's high­ways not hav­ing been ini­tial­ly de­signed for cy­clists but said the pol­i­cy would rec­ti­fy this.

If the pro­posed pol­i­cy is favoured, Sinanan said this would mean some amend­ments would be made to the Road Traf­fic Act.

He called on the cy­cling fra­ter­ni­ty to re­main hope­ful and promised pro­tec­tion would come.

IBO­BIE-LEE DIXON

(bo­bie-lee.dixon@guardian.co.tt)

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