Caterer brings Jamaican to Marco


Circumstances that make her more than proud have caused Pauline Dixon of Mel & Del Jamaican Restaurant to take her in a new business direction.

Best sellers for Mel & Del restaurant at the market are jerk pork and chicken, seen here with vegetables and fried plantain.

"Due to my son going into the Marine Corps, I've decided to close my restaurant (in Naples) and do a commissary (work out of a commercial kitchen)," said Dixon, a regular fixture at the Wednesday farmers markets on Marco Island.

She will continue to play markets throughout Southwest Florida, including the Marco venue until season is over.

"Then I'll take a break, unless I have to do some weddings or catering," she said.

Dixon's typically Jamaican "patois" inflection and unbridled cheerfulness has made her a great favorite at the market, where she sells loads of jerk pork and chicken as well as seafood gumbo, conch stewm curried chicken or goat, oxtail, and peripherals such as Jamaican coffee, "Baba Roots" herbal beverage, and Jamaican wristbands and baubles.

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."

Dixon is Jamaican born, first migrating to the Cayman Islands where she worked in the catering business, and later moving to the United States (and specifically Naples), where she qualified as a Certified Nursing Assistant, at one stage working for Physicians Regional.

She's run the restaurant (and had a market presence) for the past five years, and once she gets fully up to steam with her catering goal, plans to expand and hire additional staff.

In the meantime, Dixon – with her melodic sales pitches – will remain a fixture at the Marco market until it winds down in April.