- a container of earthenware, metal, etc., usually round and deep and having a handle or handles and often a lid, used for cooking, serving, and other purposes.
It is not a stretch to apply the broad definition of a pot to the comfortable and cozy structure that is the Big Belly Roti Shop (BBRS) located at 1290 Amsterdam Avenue in Harlem, NYC. Uptown’s newest Pan-Caribbean eatery is multi-dimensional in its cultural presentation, and soon to be filled to the brim with the delicious aromas of its succulent offerings. Diners sitting in the intimate space will be surrounded by the deep and earthy environs and an ambience infused with the sights, sounds and craftsmanship of the Caribbean. The rich cultural stew simmering inside BBRS is a unique and matchless gumbo of sophistication, art, and exceptional hospitality.
But what would a pot be without the right cook? Well Harlem is about to win big time having both the right cook and the right pot partnered together at the Big Belly Roti Shop. In a stroke of genius and tremendous good fortune, BBRS has landed the services and talents of one of New York’s most brilliant culinary experts, Chef Doyle “Bobsta Ray” Raymond. BBRS patrons will be able to enjoy the splendidly delectable creations that Chef Doyle has blessed upon some of New York’s best culinary establishments and experiences, including Le Parker Meridien Hotel and the Hornblower luxury dinner cruise line.
Chef Doyle’s journey from the richly pastoral countryside of Westmoreland, Jamaica to the apex of sophisticated urban dining has been an odyssey of the passionate preparation, and enjoyment, of meals that reflect a genesis in the gardens, traditions, and styles found throughout the homelands of the Caribbean. Bobsta enthusiastically recounts family meals that began with his grandmother’s garden expeditions collecting the stocks for the daily repasts.
“I was born into a Westmoreland home, surrounded by a vast array of food purveyors beginning with the family matriarch, my grandmother. I remember constantly trailing behind her as she went to the garden to get provisions for that day’s dinner: cocoa yam, potato, dasheen and much greenery, the likes of callaloo, bokchoy, and the natural herbs that compliment them all. My cooking style is flavor fusion realized by deep seasoning and marinating to the bone. I prefer using the traditional technique of massaging in the seasoning in order to enhance the food source’s natural flavors.”
Executive Chef Doyle “Bobsta Ray” Raymond
Throughout his formative years, Bobsta’s energies and focus remained on the development of his cooking skills, even while achieving great national success as a high school soccer star in Mandeville Manchester, Jamaica, eventually propelling him to seek academic and professional culinary training, obtaining a degree in applied sciences from New York University and certifications at Kingsborough College.
Keeping it a “family thing” is crucial for the chef. Bobsta credits without hesitation, the familial mentoring and informal culinary tutoring received from his parents Keith and Merna, as playing a significant role in his professional growth and spiritual maturation. “Big Roots” as Doyle has been affectionately dubbed by the BBRS family, has successfully established his own catering business, Bobsta Kuisine, as well as partnered with his soulmate and wife Yvette to feature her delicious handiwork of dessert pastries and authentic craft brews of Caribbean beverages. The artful couple has grown together in love and friendship, supporting each other’s dreams and raising the two beautiful children that are the ultimate pride and passion of their rich lives.
Bobsta, who fervently preaches the mission, vibes and philosophy of BBRS, is dedicated to the art and craftsmanship of the establishment. “Live in abundance!” is the chef’s credo and mantra, which is in alignment with the BBRS philosophy—a perspective which emanates from those who love and live the ethos of the Caribe.
Chef wholeheartedly predicts that visitors, hungry for the satisfying taste of the islands, will cheerfully feast on the shop’s fantastic and diverse Caribbean delicacies like his pepper shrimp roti, and featured West Indian and Latin Criollo staples, complimented by the comfortably intimate and affable gatherings representative of “back o’ yard” roots and culture of the islands.
So come thru the Big Belly Roti Shop, located in historic Harlem at 1290 Amsterdam Avenue, and be treated to the scrumptiously precious delights that will be emerging from the wholesome country pot of “da Big Roots”!
Photos by Ashley Dandridge