Quarantined Q&A: For Chef Carlos Abrahams, The Quarantine Was A Blessing In Disguise For Business
Mike: Who is Chef Loso and where are you from ?
Chef Carlos: Originally of course I’m from Jamaica but in the states I lived in Brooklyn, NY for a while, then I moved to Delaware. I lived in Delaware for the majority of my time. And then I joined the Marine Corps in 2009 . That’s how I ended up in North Carolina. I was in New Bern then my wife and I moved to Charlotte just moved here last August.
Mike: How long have you been cooking professionally?
Chef Carlos: Professionally, I started in December when I left my job. I actually was a sales manager at a dealership in New Bern. I quit that job and me and my wife moved to Charlotte to further our dreams. My goal as far as cooking and her’s with her salon. She had one there [New Bern] but she opened up a new location here. I kind of put it off for a little bit because I was nervous about doing it so I got back into the car business when I got here [Charlotte] . Then one day In December I was at work and I was like "this is not what I wanna do, I just need to go head and take that leap", So I started doing Crav'n Carribean full-time in December.
Mike: Where did the love for cooking start ?
Chef Carlos: Watching my Mom.
Mike: How’d you progress?
Chef Carlos: I would always watch my Mom and see what she was doing in the kitchen. I was always that kid that watched.
I lived in a house with all of my cousins. One room would have four bunks, with my four cousins, myself, and little brother. Four bedroom house with 10 of us living in there. I was always the one to get up and cook and watch my mom. I would be the one making breakfast and my older cousins would steal food while I was trying to cook. I never really developed it as a passion until later on in life. I would make my wife a plate and she’d say ‘I don’t need anything fancy, just do it. Put it on the plate and I'm good’ but I could never help myself, I always have to plate it. After a while I was like "Man, this might be what I wanna do". I still wasn't sure about it until I got out of the Marine Corps.
Mike: Is there a dish that you struggled to perfect?
Chef CarIos: I don't know if anything was tough. I have noticed in my old pics that I’ve gotten better with my plating. I don’t think there’s anything I have a difficulty doing. I’m a visual and hands on learner, so if I see you do something in front of me one time I can pretty much do it myself. So I don't think there’s anything that really given me a hard time but then again I'm still learning everyday so it’s not like one of those things where I can say I can do anything, but I haven't come across anything that has given me great difficulty.
Mike: What's one dish you love to make?
Chef Carlos: I love making jerk chicken! Because I love spicy food. That's literally my favorite dish to make is jerk chicken. I feel like everyone loves chicken and everyone consumes it worldwide. You may hear about different types of chicken in other cultures that you might not know of, and may taste it and like it, but Jerk Chicken is known worldwide. Because it’s known worldwide and it’s such a big influence on our culture--if you don't make it right, people are gonna know. Especially if they've had the real thing.
Mike: Whats one dish that people ask you make that you don't like to eat?
Chef Carlos: Shrimp & Grits. I hate Grits. I’ve transferred a lot of what I learned in the car business to my cooking stuff. When I was selling cars, I would never sell a brand that I don’t believe in. So I don't believe in selling dishes that I don't eat myself. I'm a big believer in taste testing. I don't use recipes and I don't measure anything. I do everything because it's what I know. So I would never be able to get the taste right because I would never be able to get it to ‘I feel comfortable selling this’ because I don't like it.
Mike: Is there anything you cook at home that you don't eat?
Chef Carlos: So I don't know if there’s anything that I cook that I really don't like to eat. I try to cook things that I eat myself. I'm the first line of defense as far as taste testing. If I like it and I make my wife try. Since she’s a lot more picky; if she likes it then I’m doing something right.
Mike: Is she your go to taste tester?
Chef Carlos: Oh yeah! Absolutely! Everything I do! She hates it sometimes actually. I always ask her ‘you sure?’. If I don't get a certain reaction out of her, I always ask again. I think she gets complacent in knowing my stuff is good but I'm always looking for a certain reaction. If I don't get “Oh babe this is good!” I don't get that, I don't feel like it’s right. She might not mean it that way, it might be good but she’s so used to my food being good, so I try to get her to really critique me.
Mike: So how long have you been selling plates?
Chef Carlos: I did it on and off when I was in New Bern and that's when I really started seeing people really love my food and I needed to go head and do something with it, but I knew I was only gonna go but so far in New Bern. I started an actual business with Crav'n Caribbean and went full-time back in December.
Mike: How’s business been since COVID-19? Still getting plates out?
Chef Carlos: Oh yeah! Absolutely. Still doing really well. All praise to God on that. I feel like it's absolutely a blessing doing the right thing before this happened. Good thing I started back in December; I took a leap of faith. My original plan was to stay in the car business and start in July. So I would've been stuck trying to cook and sell plates, instead of listening to God and taking the leap of faith when I did. So think that's a huge plus. It has affected me in certain ways but not negatively.
It has affected me in the mobility side, but as an entrepreneur you try to figure out ways to adapt and over come. I started doing “No contact pick up” at my house. So I prepare everything here and post my menu on Instagram for pre-orders. I have a table sitting out front, tell me when you're on your way and close by, and I'll put it on the table. I don't accept cash right now so it’s all through electronic pay.
Support and follow Chef Carlos and Crav'n Caribbean now and after the quarantine is lifted for an authentic Jamaican cuisine. Crav'n Caribbean is available mobile Tuesday-Saturday from 11am to 5pm or until food is sold out. You can place your order at (302)521-5265.
Mike Palmer is a food aficionado at TTT Media, where he covers culinary arts.