Photo Credit: Chef Nadege Fleurimond
Chef Nadege Fleurimond Launches New Apron Line Celebrating Haitian Art And Culture
Author, speaker, and entrepreneur Chef Nadege Fleurimond is celebrating the culture and art of Haiti with her new line of aprons. Originally from Port-au-Prince, she moved to Brooklyn at the age of seven and says she is a “New Yorker through and through.”
Chef Nadege learned to cook from her father and has fond memories of preparing food and drinks for her dad and his friends as they played cards. She recalls being distraught about the move to Brooklyn because she had never met her father prior to her arrival.
“I had left everything behind, so in the early days I was so homesick I hardly ate. It wasn’t until my dad started showing me how to cook Haitian food that I began connecting to being in the U.S. It didn’t feel so foreign anymore once I started cooking the food that reminded me of home. As I look back now, I see how my childhood was the perfect set up for my career, yet I never knew it.”
As a college student, Chef Nadege began utilizing food to share her Haitian culture. She would cook and explain the dishes and share stories with her friends of all different cultures. Through these exchanges, her and her friends would learn about the similarities and differences between their traditions and dishes.
“Conversations about our favorite places would spark. We’d talk about our families, travels, childhood experiences, and everything in between. I always say I truly became Haitian in college because it was in that sea of non-Haitians where I became super conscious of my Haitian upbringing. Through these experiences, I discovered that food is the real soundtrack to our lives. Everything we experience is shaped or enveloped by meals and celebrations.”
Throughout the years, Chef Nadege continued to perfect her craft and today, her cooking skills have led to her successful career in culinary arts beginning with the founding her catering company 19 years ago. Since then, she has appeared on BET, the Food Network’s ‘Chopped’, and has been recognized in numerous publications.
She has also catered for the White House and written several culinary books. Her latest, ‘Taste of Solitude: A Culinary Journal’, details her self-discovery journey through cooking during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
“The initial days of the pandemic were traumatic to say the least. Most of my work was so reliant on in-person contact (catering, workshops, speaking engagements, etc.), that I found myself in a daze wondering what my next steps would be. It was in those moments I decided to focus on one of my favorite mantras that I always say to my clients: ‘take control of the things you can control, and the things you can’t control will suddenly diminish.’”
“I used those moments to really assess where I was and where I wanted to go, and to refocus. I used the time to draw on those childhood and adult experiences that have shaped me, and I drew from them for strength and guidance. As is always the case for me, food served as the therapy and vehicle to process all those feelings. And thankfully, a book sprung from it all.”
Out of this quarantine also came Chef Nadege’s new line of aprons. An idea that she had worked on several years ago, she had put her plans on pause after encountering some logistics issues. Being in lockdown, she found herself with ample time to finally work out the details and make it a reality.
A major cooking tool used by chefs and cooks in kitchens worldwide, Chef Nadege hopes her unique cultural line of aprons will help people feel good while bringing more fun into the cooking experience. Her aprons are available in both adults’ and children’s sizes to accommodate the whole family. The aprons are made from a durable denim material with embroidered artwork by Haitian-American artist and creative agent Gracie Xavier.
“Since the whole look of the apron is inspired by Haiti’s Carabella/Karabela traditional peasant dress, I wanted to have traditional Haitian art by a Haitian artist that would convey the feeling I wanted associated with the apron. Haitian artists are uniquely talented. I love the representation of peasant life in much of the artwork and oftentimes there’s a food motif as the land is usually what feeds the people. It represents life.”
Throughout the Month of May, Chef Nadege is posting various Haitian dishes and stories as a way to share some of the great dishes shaping Haitian gastronomy. Check out her Instagram for inspiration for some authentic Haitian dishes to prepare in celebration of Haitian Heritage Month. One traditional dish called tchaka is a dish Chef Nadege is very fond of.
“If there’s still a dish that is considered ‘peasant’ food in Haiti, that would be it. I believe there’s beauty in tradition and that it should always be shared and celebrated. Tchaka consists of red kidney beans mixed with cracked corn and spiced with smoked turkey or pork, seasoned with fresh herbs and spices. Think chili but a million times better.”
Chef Nadege is also currently working with three others to put together the first Haitian Restaurant Week, which will highlight restaurants, chefs, and other Haitian food professionals in major U.S. cities like Atlanta, Miami, N.Y.C., and D.C.
“The goal is to get everyone to learn a bit more about Haitian food while supporting local restaurants which we know have really taken a hit during this past year.”
For more information on Chef Nadege, her apron line, or her books, visit www.nadegefleurimond.com.