Photo Credit: Chenoa Laurencin
Meet Chenoa Laurencin: The Founder Of Chenoa Can Cook
For all of us, food is required to sustain life. But for some people, like Chenoa Laurencin, founder of Chenoa Can Cook, food is a lifestyle.
It provides a means to communicate when words are insufficient. It nurtures and inspires. It brings all kinds of people together, but Chenoa’s food is, above all, a love song dedicated to Black people. Her delicacies draw heavily from Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean cuisine, and she’s proud to show appreciation for Blackness in this way.
The name of her business isn’t hot air or empty boasting. The consensus among just about everybody who has tried her food is that she CAN indeed cook.
“I just wanted it to be super simple,” Chenoa told Travel Noire. “Chenoa Can Cook is something that just rolled off the tongue, and I decided to keep it.”
Chenoa is humble about her culinary gifts, and driven by the overwhelmingly positive feedback she’s received online and in person. She’s been a vendor at several expos and pop-up shops in Brooklyn, created for Black business owners to network. Her favorite pop- up shop is run by Trent Russell, an entrepreneur she praises for consistently providing a platform where small black-owned businesses can foster existing connections and create new ones.
Chenoa has participated in many such events over the years, but the novelty never really wears off, and neither do the pre-event jitters.
“To this day, I’m extremely nervous and apprehensive whenever I cook for an event or cook for someone,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve prepared the same thing. I’m always super excited when someone tells me that they like the way my cooking tastes. It’s like I’m hearing it for the first time, every single time. I never, ever, take any type of compliment for granted.”
Chenoa’s passion for gastronomy stems from childhood, and her mother, the daughter of parents from Grenada and St. Lucia, played a pivotal role in sparking it.
“I can definitely say that she is mostly responsible for teaching me the mechanics of cooking,” Chenoa said. “She was a firm believer in doing everything the same way every single time, and she was extremely thorough when she cooked. I watched her and caught the bug to start trying my own stuff out around the age of 10. I’ve learned to never take my cooking for granted. I don’t care if I’m making something simple or something really elaborate. I treat both with the same level of care.”
Chenoa can cook whatever she puts her mind to, but for events, she sticks to what resonates with her customers and sells well.
Her oxtails practically melt off the bone, and no, she won’t suck her teeth if you ask for extra gravy. The curry chicken is a hit that is matched by the stuffed salmon. There’s also her homemade macaroni and cheese, shrimp salad, cheddar biscuits, blueberry pancakes with pork or turkey bacon, and her knockout banana pudding with the chess piece biscuits on top. She recently unveiled her special sauce called, Chenoa’s Zesty Dressing. What’s in it, do you ask? Deliciousness. And it goes with just about anything.
When it comes to customer service, Chenoa is no- nonsense. She’s a firm believer in delivering quality, and she values all her customers, knowing they could easily give their patronage to somebody else. That kind of commitment is only exceeded by Chenoa’s love for those who help her business function.
Her dear friend Tasha, and daughter Kiana, are frequently on hand to assist with food preparation, serving, and clean up. And though she’s a bit too young to do any of that, Chenoa’s adorable granddaughter Kai supports in her own way, holding court at the expos and pop-ups.
Between being a fitness trainer and family obligations, Chenoa didn’t initially think she’d have enough time to sell her food. But after hearing people tell her for years, “open up a restaurant!” or that she should at least make money off her food, she decided to take the plunge. She hasn’t looked back since, and she’s excited for what the future has in store for her professionally.
“It wasn’t until around 2018 that I started to sell my food,” Chenoa explained. “I cooked food and delivered it. There was a profound sense of accomplishment after I completed my first food delivery. It was something I hadn’t ever felt before. That’s when I pretty much knew that I was going to continue to do this.”
Chenoa’s business acumen and her resourcefulness are poignantly summed up in a Latin phrase tattooed on her arm. It reads, aut viam inveniam aut faciam, meaning, “I shall either find a way or make one.”
Want to know what Chenoa’s got cooking? Follow her on Instagram at Chenoa_Can_Cook or Chenoa Can Cook on Facebook.