Dave Rodney is that guy who always looks so indifferent that he fits into the setting – any setting. He really defines ‘been there, done that’, but what is exceptional is that, far from being jaded, his attitude says he would do it again, with quite a bit of enthusiasm on top of that.
Rodney wears many hats, including public relations guru, music producer, travel consultant and writer, concert promoter and conductor. At 20, he packed his bags and flew to France on a scholarship and, as he relates Food, “I learned a lot more than the language.” Accustomed to delicious dishes, his taste buds are inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, and it is the continuation of a journey started next to the charcoal pot and wood fires built by his grandmother, originally from Madagascar.
1. How did you become so mindful of food?
I was always around good food. My maternal grandmother in Savanna-la-Mar was from Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, and she was a great charcoal and wood-fired cooker. My mother used to cook and cook. My brother went to Whitehouse early in the morning to buy some fresh seaside catch which he cooked the same day for lunch, and my aunt in Port Antonio had a restaurant next to the Port Antonio Market on West Street. So growing up, tasty food was everywhere. When I was 20, I lived in the south of France and was introduced to Mediterranean cuisine. After I returned to Jamaica, I worked for the Jamaica Tourist Board and spent a lot of time in some of the best hotels on the island, where I learned a lot about Jamaican cuisine and how to eat omelets, ackees and snails. And I also learned a lot by traveling the world and exploring food – from the Amazon jungle in Brazil to Trinidad and Tobago and Guadeloupe, to Japan, to Europe and Africa. You learn new things everywhere you go. And some of my best friends are chefs.
2. What is your favorite dish to prepare?
I make excellent soups, devilish chicken curry and curry shrimp to die for. I am also very good with fish and roast beef. And recently I made a sweet and sour shrimp which was amazing. But … I’ve never cooked rice and peas, and I don’t know how.
3. What is your favorite food to eat?
I eat very little, but I like to entertain, so when I cook, it’s not for me. I like rice and peas; so tasty it doesn’t need meat. I also like crab, any style.
4. Share your best and worst dining experiences with us.
My best dining experience was dining at a five star restaurant in Tokyo called Roger Verge. The food was to die for, and I later found out why. Roger was one of the creators of what is called “nouvelle cuisine franÃ§aise”. But guess what? Roger, a Frenchman, learned to cook in a hotel on the north coast of Jamaica. On his return to France, he created some of the most fashionable restaurants in the world in the 1990s. I also can’t forget a meal of Creole crayfish that I ate in a roadside hut in touring the island of Guadeloupe.
I was with a group of guest reporters from WBLS Radio in New York, and we were served dead lobster on Hellshire Beach. Fortunately, I dropped the lobster and had to run it to the hospital. Most people don’t realize how dangerous lobster can be if it’s not handled properly.
5. What dish would you cook for someone with a palette of adventurers?
Tamarind soup followed by a kingfisher recap.
6. How do you merge food, marketing and music?
In our culture, food is the altar on which we worship, even if it is only for bread and wine. So, good food improves and amplifies everything we do. Except to lose weight!