Best New Restaurant: Summerhouse at the Liguanea Club

Thursday, June 06, 2019

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We are deeply honoured to receive the award for Best New Restaurant at the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards 2019. Incidentally, this week marks the first anniversary of Summerhouse at the Liguanea Club. We opened in a whirlwind of activity last year, and this has been one of the most rewarding, and simultaneously challenging years that we have had.

Last year we not only published our second cookbook, Provisions, but we also completed the first leg of our US book tour, among other events, and finished up working on an ongoing consulting project. We opened Summerhouse — hiring, training the team, building out and equipping the space in just three months.

To win at this time is significant for the brand and adds to the year-end celebrations of our team. We have been lucky to find a great team that has supported us as we have challenged each other to grow and succeed — which never feels comfortable. But one thing we know after 25 years of doing this is that anything that requires you to expand always feels difficult — at least the first time around.

We recently returned from a series of events in New York City. We were invited to present at TEDx Columbus Circle: The Bold & the Brave — a theme which was totally in alignment with our recent work around heritage and the women of the Caribbean. Among the other presenters were a mathematician, a NASCAR driver and a Fortune 500 CEO. It was empowering to know that we were sharing the stage with these amazing thinkers and doers.

Our talk, “Finding Courage in the Truth of our Ancestors”, was met with great interest and positive responses. We see it as an honour and privilege to tell the stories of our ancestors to a global audience and even more gratifying when you realise that this audience is actually very interested in hearing those stories. Our talk will be live on the site soon.

We followed this with a restaurant takeover at the James Beard Award-winning restaurant Fish And Game by Zak Pelaccio and Jori Jayne Emde in Hudson, New York. Zak came to dinner at Summerhouse a few weeks back and said he loved our vibe and our food and invited us to do the takeover. Of course, we were delighted. Fish and Game is a beautiful restaurant, the perfect space in which to recreate our signature West India Supper. It was a spectacular night — intimate, warm, cosy, fantastic food, incredible natural wines, open-hearth cooking, lots of laughter and great conversation. It was everything we could have ever dreamed of, and not only was it sold-out but we received rave reviews, to boot. It's wonderful working with like minds — so gratifying. Zak said we opened people's minds about West Indian cuisine that night. We sure hope so! We just know that we had a ball and made some fantastic new friends.

We have a practice that on our birthday we always make sure to take the time to check in — to look at how far we've come, celebrate our accomplishments, acknowledge the losses and clarify where we want to go. So naturally, we've done the same for Summerhouse, and we can promise that the upcoming year is going to be one of even more growth with a lot of exciting new adventures for the team and our customers along the way.

We start our first anniversary celebrations with a bang for Father's Day — we have something extraordinary planned for the dads in our lives on June 17.

'Summer is Coming' — this was our opening campaign for a reason. Summer is the signature season for Summerhouse — it represents everything that we stand for — bright, colourful, joyful, vibrant Caribbean living, so naturally, we have a heck of a summer lined up at the restaurant with bigger, better and more expanded signature experiences.

The Veuve Cliquot Champagne Garden series will be back, with new summer menus. Unplugged live music is also on the calendar, and we even have a few more surprises in store as we round out the year with beautiful adventures and curated experiences for our customers to enjoy — as always, amazing music, simply delicious food and great drinks.

Provisions' North American book tour continues as we step into fall just about September when we have another tour coming up to the southern US — with west coast to follow.

We will also be focusing on more special events and catering this year. Last year we had less time with so much going on, but our long-time loyal clients have been asking so we're going back to where we started with Ciao Bella.

Summerhouse is a manifestation of our collective identity as West Indian women, sisters, entrepreneurs, cooks, homemakers. These aspects of ourselves are in the brand's DNA. This year we're really going to focus on fine-tuning and bringing those pieces of the puzzle together so that our customers can begin to really experience the ethos of the brand and what we represent.

— Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau

Co-principals, Summerhouse at The Liguanea Club




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