Meal kits have been experiencing an uptick in popularity in the western hemisphere. They take the hassle out of deciding on weekly menus, and having to shop for ingredients in this COVID-19 environment, with people preferring to stay safe at home if they can. It was the perfect environment for Chef Romero Dorsette to launch Showman E-bistro, a meal delivery kit that gives people the option to create delicious meals without the waste while broadening their cooking skills and experiencing new flavors or recipes they may not have tried otherwise.
How it works: Showman’s team of chefs curate a specialty dinner kit weekly; you purchase your box with either cash, charge card or Kanoo; collect your meal kit from their distribution center or pay the small charge to have it delivered – and then chef it up. Of course they provide you with recipes online, or you can opt to do your own thing.
I decided to check it out during one of the lockdown weekends to see what the hype is all about. I went into it really with no idea what to expect. I assumed everything in the box would be prepared and all I would need to do was reheat, plate beautifully and serve. I was in for a rude awakening.
I actually had to cook!
The week I received my box featured the cuisine of Louisiana and Haiti, and 90 percent of the ingredients I would need to make dishes like soup joumou (a traditional pumpkin soup that symbolizes Haitian independence and freedom and enjoyed on January 1); pikliz (Haitian condiment of pickled cabbage, carrots, bell peppers and Scotch bonnet peppers); Creole-style snapper (Haitian specialty consisting of slow-cooking red snapper with water, tomato paste and spices); Dalgona whipped coffee (the Korean coffee drink that is taking the internet by storm and is like a cappuccino turned on its head with frothy coffee on top and milk underneath); cafe au lait (equal parts steamed milk and strong hot coffee); red beans and rice (a Louisiana staple); pork griot (a popular Haitian dish); bannann (plantain fritter served with rice and beans and pikliz); legume (a Haitian dish comprised of mixed vegetables cooked with meat, usually beef, then mashed and served over rice); seafood etouffee (a classic Louisiana dish); jambalaya (a culinary staple in New Orleans that includes sausage, chicken or pork and seafood); fried chicken; shrimp po’ boy (a Classic Louisiana sandwich); sos pwa (A Haitian black bean soup typically served with white rice); Creole mussels with rice; cornbread; and the ubiquitous beignets (deep-fried nuggets of sweetened dough).
All recipes that I had never made before.
As I unpacked the ingredients at home, clearing the box seemed endless at first. All the ingredients required – meats, produce and grocery items – I discovered in the box that two people had to lift.
Now mind you, Showman E-bistro says their meal kits feed a family of four, five to seven pre-portioned meals per kit, and during the weekends of lockdowns, and nowhere to go, I had the grand idea that I would spend an entire day in my kitchen, preparing the meals from my box. That proved not to be feasible.
In my first foray, I was able to get through two meals – the one-dish jambalaya which was chock-full of andouille sausage, shrimp and chicken; and the pork griot and pikliz.
Now, I’ve had griot before from a colleague’s friend, and I thought it was nothing special – that was until I made it myself. The enticing aromas that wafted out of my pot while the pork marinated took me by surprise; it was amazing. Then it was on to braising then frying up the fatty nuggets of porky goodness to pair with the spicy pickled vegetables. This is one of those dishes I’ve found you want to make yourself.
The following day, I delved back into the box and prepared the red beans and rice, which I loved, and actually decided to pair with the pork griot and pikliz before having to give the meal preparation a rest again.
The amount of food I got from each meal preparation took me off guard. It was that much.
It took another five days, but I dove back into the box to make the cornbread and looked high and low for the can of cream-style corn (which I hate), until I realized Showman intended for me to make the cream-style corn from scratch with the fresh corn provided. It took literally five minutes to make, if that, and after having made cream-style corn from scratch I’ve changed my mind that it’s not as horrible as I thought… Well, at least the stuff in the can is horrible. The cornbread which I normally wouldn’t eat, I actually enjoyed; maybe it’s because I made it myself.
With thoughts of the latest internet craze, Dalgona whipped coffee, on my mind, with a side of beignets, I made those the following day to jumpstart my Sunday – quite deliciously I might add.
This method of making coffee is by no means new. It’s been used for years in the Middle East and Asia, but has suddenly become popular in the States – and no coffee maker needed. It’s super easy – instant coffee, sugar and hot water, whipped by hand with a whisk or with an electric mixer until fluffy and lightened in color, then spooned atop a glass of iced milk. Feel free to swirl it in if you want as well.
I was a little skeptical about whether my beignets would come out or not, because I’m not accustomed to frying anything; I may not be from New Orleans, but I thought my fried dough nuggets were amazing. Paired with the whipped coffee, they were a real treat.
It’s been more than a week, and I haven’t gotten through my entire meal kit and have plans this weekend to make the soup joumou.
Showman E-bistro’s dinner kits are akin to taking your taste buds on a trip, without actually having to go.
The dinner kits were introduced the second week of May, and this week the box features ingredients to make African meals.
So far, Showman E-bistro has explored a number of cuisines including a dinner kit celebrating Bahamian cuisine during the Independence holiday week. Italian, Middle Eastern, foods of the United Kingdom, Spanish and vegan foods have also had curated boxes.
When Dorsette conceived the idea of the meal kits, he did so with thoughts of families coming together to explore foods and recipes from around the world; and coming together in the kitchen to prepare the meals, according to Ray Morrison, Showman E-bistro director of public relations
“Our owner [Chef Romero Dorsette] is very big about folks getting together, enjoying and celebrating good times over a great meal. So, the whole idea of being able to prepare or have these meals put in a box and have families get in the kitchen and laugh and chef it up together was a part of this novelty idea,” said Morrison.
Since Showman E-bistro’s debut, Morrison said they have been well-received and that people have been enjoying the convenience of their dinner kits which showcase fresh, quality food and provide great value for money.
Dinner kits run $120.
Showman E-bistro’s dinner kits are a concept Morrison said they want to be able to provide the Bahamian public with long-term, and they’re exploring ways to diversify the price point to allow everyone the opportunity to be able to enjoy and appreciate the concept that is Showman – great quality food, great service and great value for money.
Showman E-bistro is an offshoot of Showman Bahamas Ltd., an elite culinary and concierge provider which Dorsette started in 2005.
“We like to say [Showman] is probably the big catering company that you probably don’t hear about,” said Morrison.
Dorsette named his company “Showman” in homage to his grandfather, the late Alexander “The Whip” Dorsette who was known for anything to do with horse racing in the ‘50s, and gave his grandson the nickname “Showman” – a name that stuck.
There are a number of ways people can order a dinner kit. They can call 801-7751, go online and order the boxes and pay online, or go into their distribution center which is located on Claridge Road, in the old Bahamas Food Services building, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.