IT’S the award-winning fledging business bringing a true taste of Trinidad and Tobago to the streets of Southampton.
Down d’Islands was only launched as the country started to emerge from the first lockdown in the summer of 2020 and has just been named the best street food vendor at the 2022 Hampshire Street Food Awards.
The foodie firm has been a long-held dream for Dianne Cupid, who serves up the fresh, light, vibrant and mouth-watering flavours of Trinidadian cuisine.
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The Eastleigh home-based caterer offers deliveries, trades at festivals and takes over kitchens, cooking everything fresh with authentic Trinidadian herbs and spices.
She told the Daily Echo: “I have been cooking since I was 13 so I have decades of experience learning from my parents.
“I love cooking and was always cooking, baking and sharing food with friends and co-workers. The kitchen is my relaxing place, although not doing the dishes!
“I put the paperwork in place, but just never found the right time to start trading. Then I literally woke up one morning and said I am going to start. One week later, my first menu was out.
“I went into this heart in hand. I come from a large family in Trinidad and Tobago and we’re accustomed to cooking for big crowds, but this was a learning curve. The cooking was not an issue but the logistics of everything else – man!
“It has been a learning curve since that day. We kept gathering more visitors and followers and word of mouth spread and we have been growing ever since.
“My husband and daughters are my helpers and they are absolute superstars as they put up with my craziness, random ideas and controlling manner in the kitchen. They have no idea how grateful I am to them for helping me realize a dream long time in the making.”
Despite the success of Down d’Islands, Dianne was still surprised scoop two Hampshire Street Food Awards earlier this summer.
She added: “We didn’t think that we’d win anything as we are so new in the business and there were so many experienced and fantastic traders there. We just went to get our name out there.
“However we actually won the Best Vegetarian and Best Overall! I am still smiling about that!
“We have some exciting times coming up and we cannot wait to see where it will take us.
“We only trade on weekends as we all have standard 9 to 5 jobs during the week but I live for the weekends so I can continue my hobby.
“Cooking is a passion of mine and I am thankful to have the opportunity to turn a hobby into a business.”
If the Down d’Islands team are not at a festival, deliveries are available at the weekend. A new menu is released every Monday on the firm”s Facebook page and orders are taken via WhatsApp.
For more information, visit www.downdislands.co.uk
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