Getting to know the Chef of BAMBOO FIRE CAFÉ

Delray Beach

  • Chef’s name – Beverly Jacobs
  • Title – Chef/Owner
  • Hometown – Guyana, South America
  • Favorite hidden gem in The Palm BeachesPho 16
  • Favorite band / musician – Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, KD Lang, etc.
  • Current restaurant / resortBAMBOO FIRE CAFÉ in Delray Beach
  • Brief description about restaurant – Small husband and wife owned Caribbean restaurant in downtown Delray Beach, featuring Caribbean and World cuisine.  Offers Caribbean, Asian, Indian influenced dishes.  Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten friendly.  Homey, comfortable, laid-back vibe -- like having dinner in a friend’s house.  Time permitting, the chef will do custom dishes.
  • Hours of operation  Wednesday – Thursday: 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday: 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., Sunday: 2 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • Address  149 NE 4th Avenue, Delray Beach, FL  33483 (561-749-0973)

Tell us about yourself. How did you shape your culinary career, starting from your first job in the F&B industry to where you are now?
I started cooking when I was 9 years old.  As a kid, I cut out and saved beautiful recipes from British and American magazines.  I would try to recreate the dishes.  However, living in South America, I did not have the ingredients for most of the dishes, so I would make my version of those recipes.  I honed my creative skills trying to find substitutes for clotted cream and fell.  I like to do the unexpected like frying kale or okra in a chickpea batter, or making my own duck bacon. I love game meats – we used to do “wild things” once a month at the restaurant.  We served curried venison and guinea fowl.  I love it when one of my restaurant guests says – “just make me something good.”
I’ve always cooked for large family gatherings and eventually started a small catering business.  My friends kept telling me to I should open a restaurant.  One day my ego got ahead of me and I said why not?  So I did.  We were not supposed to survive – because both my husband and I had full time jobs when we started.  He was going to quit his job but we started when the country was in the throes of the big recession.  I told him you can’t quit your job during a recession so we decided to do a part-time restaurant.  Open for dinners only on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  We’d leave work and then open the restaurant with the help of one other person.  I was in the back and in the front of the house. 

Garlic eggplant dip

In the early days when we were not so busy, I spent a lot of time chatting with fellow foodies who discovered us. I learned a lot and met many wonderful people who were encouraging and amazed that we both worked full-time and did the restaurant.  They boosted us on Chowhound and Yelp.  Mark Bitman, the NY Times food writer, came to the restaurant once.  He gave us a great review on his blog.  New Times has named us best Caribbean restaurant twice.  It’s been eight years and we’re still here.
Who was your greatest cooking influence?
My cooking is influenced by the diverse culture of Guyana.  Our population consists of the decendants of African slaves, indentured East Indian, Chinese and Portugese laborers, British colonials and our native Amerindians. I also am influenced by culinary adventurers – Anthony Bourdain, Bobby Flay.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
I love seafood. I also love cooking and presenting vegetables in a form beyond the standard steamed vegetables offered to vegetarians.  We serve substantial vegetarian dishes that can be enjoyed by non-vegetarians.
Tell us about your restaurant. What was the inspiration behind both the restaurant and its menu?
The inspiration was to have a restaurant with dishes that felt like you were having dinner at a friend’s house if your friend was a world traveler.  The menu was meant to showcase our diversity – we’re Caribbean, African, East Indian, Asian, European, etc.  That menu encompasses duck gumbos, curried golden crab, tofu lo-mein, stuffed mussels,etc.  We’re also flexible enough to do dishes for the gluten challenged.  It’s a dream to do off-the menu dishes.
What is your culinary "philosophy" and how are you expressing that at this restaurant?
I don’t have a definable culinary philosophy—but if I did, it would be about stepping out of your comfort zone and bringing a fresh take to staples.  At the same time, maintaining the integrity and expectations of diners.

Lobster mac and cheese

When dining at your restaurant, what type of guest experience do you hope to evoke?
I want people to feel like they’re having dinner at a friend’s house or a member of the family.  I want them to feel comfortable and special
If a chef colleague visited your restaurant, what’s your idea of the perfect meal to recommend to him/her?
The fish in the banana leaf, the oxtail, curried goat, the grilled conch, the tostones, the conch ceviche, the smoked eggplant dip
Why is your restaurant a “must-try” restaurant for visitors of The Palm Beaches?
It’s a must try because the flavors are Caribbean but our diversity is also showcased so it’s a culinary journey.
How is the culinary scene across The Palm Beaches thriving? Do you think the cuisine across The Palm Beaches has its own signature flavor?
The scene is thriving because people are craving different tastes.  I truly admire the individual with an adventurous palate, who is willing to try something new – if only once.  There is room for so much more.  Palm Beach is International but it is also very local.  We are blessed with many small farms and green markets.  There is a good variety of fresh locally grown produce which enhances the menus of the restaurants.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in The Palm Beaches? 
Brule in Delray, Pho 16 –tiny Vietnamese place on Military trail, New Vegan in Delray Beach

Fried okra

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