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Two Sisters and a Cookbook: Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau

Michelle & Suzanne Rousseau the women behind Caribbean Potluck

The heat of the summer’s day was beginning to dissipate but the CPJ Market Place, one of the current hubs of Kingston’s trendy, was crackling with energy from the official launch of Caribbean Potluck: Modern Recipes from Our Family Kitchen by Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau . As the night wound to a close the two sisters took a moment for a quick chat with Susumba about the cook book and their life in the culinary industry.

“Caribbean Potluck is a compilation of the stories of our life in the food business,” Michelle explains. The book has been germinating for about a decade, but when Kyle Books (UK) agreed to publish it, the sisters used it as a great opportunity to pursue other culinary goals. 

Suzanne explains that publishing their own cookbook was one of their ultimate goals and achieving it inspired them to produce the  30-minute cooking show Two Sisters and a Meal (aired on TVJ) and the web-series. The book was being launched on Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

Suzanne Lee and Gillian Morgan of Novelty Trading serve customers who eagerly snap up Caribbean Potluck“This is a new arena that now takes us to the w
orld,” Suzanne says. But of course, their experience in the culinary world has not been a small one. The two grew up in and around the food industry and have catered an impressive roster of events including weddings for Hollywood actresses Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon as well as dinner for Prince Charles. The two sisters opened their first restaurant Ciao Bella in 1996, which evolved from a cafe to a fine dining restaurant. They have also previously managed Deli Works (Sovereign Centre) and designed the menu at Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records.

Yet despite this impressive track record, the Rousseau sisters view the launch of Caribbean Potluck as a signature moment in their career.

“I think it’s the most important life journey for both of us,” Michelle says. “It is the first time that what we do and who we are have merged seamlessly,” she continues.

Suzanne and Michelle sign a copy of Caribbean Potluck for Chef Brian LumleySuzanne points out that today’s Caribbean is a metropolitan space and the book reflects this. As such, while it pays homage to traditional Caribbean cuisine, it is unapologetically modern and hip.

“Caribbean people are very exposed to global experiences,” Suzanne says. “And we can present food in modern ways.”

“Food is translatable to anybody,” Michelle adds. “We recognize that the flavours of the Caribbean are things that anybody can enjoy,” she says.

Caribbean Potluck presents 100 recipes that bring a contemporary mix to Caribbean classics and also gives a Caribbean flavour to non-Caribbean meals, as well as signature recipes by the two sisters.

Suzanne explains that the recipes can be easily prepared by any good cook. 

“Good food is not about hype and fancy,” Suzanne says. She explains that this has been a guiding philosophy underlying what they do, recognizing that it is about simplicity and style.