Chef Thomas’ unconventional approach to food

Chef Cindy Thomas blends her experiences with other cultures into innovative food creations.
Cindy Thomas

Through food, we have the ability to travel to various countries and sample their cultures without ever boarding a plane.

Chef Cindy Thomas welcomes cultures to clash through inventive recipes such as Asian inspired spring rolls filled ackee and saltfish.

The Trinidadian native employs blending her own Caribbean culture with other countries as a way to keep her inspired and shock those who sample her delicious creations.

“I’m a person who gets kind of bored doing the same thing all the time. I never was satisfied to just stay in Brooklyn, Crown Heights, or around the same people,” Thomas explained.

The self-taught chef approaches each dish with an openness to follow wherever her mind takes her. With no formal training in culinary arts, Thomas follows the ingredients lead to concoct her dishes.

“It’s a lab, it’s a temple — it’s everything. I swear to you, and I’m going to sound crazy, sometimes when the idea hits me it’s almost like when people get the Holy Ghost in church,” she said.

Starting her catering company Fiesty Flavors Catering in 2011, Thomas has completely immersed herself in cooking. She tested her abilities and chef skill set while appearing on Food Network’s competitive cooking show, “Cutthroat Kitchen” in November 2014.

It was there that Thomas received national recognition for her culinary pursuits.

Chef Cindy Thomas’ delicious sorrel wings.
Photo by Ray Mitchell

“The fact that I had no training and I didn’t even apply to the show, they found me on Instagram. I didn’t even care if I won, I just didn’t want to get kicked out in the first round,” she said.

The whirlwind experience hasn’t evaporated like most 15 minutes of fame. Her push to continue diversifying her demographic and challenging her culinary expertise remain her primary goals.

Once again putting herself to the test and in the spotlight, Thomas secured two spots in the New York City Wine and Food Festival – attending the prestigious festival as a vendor for the first time.

“They have thousands of people that come through there, they walk through, taste your food — basically putting your food on display,” Thomas explained. “You’re giving out samples and you never know who can pick up a sample. They could be an investor, somebody famous, it’s just a good way to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to people.”

Thomas’ whimsical approach to food expands to her approach to her business as well. Unlike most chefs, Thomas does not aim to own a restaurant or even join the trend of food trucks.

Instead, she prefers to expand to host pop-up restaurants where she can go to the customer rather than having them happen upon her.

“Then I’m just a free spirit by nature, I don’t want to be married to a restaurant. But I do want to do pop up restaurants so I can go around. I think that I can do more if I go to the people and go wherever I want,” she said.

Look out for Chef Cindy Thomas as she focuses her attention on her continued growth, experimenting with blending cultures, and possibly appearing on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” in the future.

Chef Cindy Thomas’ delightful zucchini bruschetta.
Photo by Ray Mitchell

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aoliv[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.

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