Caribbean chow down
Chef creates assortment of Jamaican specialties
Don’t expect a trickle of remoulade or a red wine reduction sauce gently drizzled over Ms. Pauline Dixon’s Jamaican chunky fried chicken next time you ease over to the Wednesday Farmers Market at Veterans Community Park.
Do, however, expect a blast of flavor arising from the coconut flour and secret spices from native-Jamaican Dixon as you bite into a big, bold portion.
And flavor’s what it’s all about for Mel & Del Jamaican Catering company’s Dixon, whose sing-song Caribbean accent maintains even after living in the USA for the past 30 years. She mixes up most of her own spices, and while she might reveal there’s a touch of salt and pepper here and there, the rest stay a secret.
Dixon's unbridled cheerfulness has made her a great favorite at the market, where she sells loads of the chicken along with tasty beef patties, smoothies of all types, seafood gumbo, jerk pork stews and curries as well as peripherals such as Jamaican coffee and Jamaican wristbands and baubles.
Formerly the owner of Mel & Del Jamaican Restaurant in Naples, Dixon switched solely to catering because of circumstances that made her more than proud.
"Due to my son going into the Marine Corps, I decided to close the restaurant and do catering and markets like this,” she said. “He’s doing well.”
Her cooking has one special ingredient, no matter what the dish.
"You have got to cook with love," she says. "You have to feel the love when you make something."
From Jamaica, Dixon first migrated to the Cayman Islands where she worked in the catering business, and later moved to the United States (and specifically Naples), where she qualified as a certified nursing assistant, at one stage working for Physicians Regional.
Like any creative chef, Dixon always mulls new ideas.
“I think about recipes at night, and then just do with them,” she says. “I pray for direction too. You cannot get discouraged … you keep going.”