Norwich chef offers diners an authentic ‘taste of the French Caribbean’ with new cookbook
- Credit: Simon Finlay
At six years old, Denis Rosembert studied his grandmother's cooking in St Lucia diligently, learning how to make Creole hot pepper sauce, fresh conch salad and Cajun catfish.
Now at age 59 and the owner of Norwich restaurant Chez Denis, Mr Rosembert is pouring his lifetime of culinary expertise into a cookbook.
'Taste of the French Caribbean' artfully ties together Mr Rosembert's favourite family recipes with unique island flavour and history. He decided to write the book partly due to demand from customers at his restaurant on Red Lion Street, who wanted to know exactly how he makes his signature dishes.
'So many people love the way I cook, I cook everything from scratch. Everything is marinated. People ask: 'How can mutton be do tender?' I marinate it for eight days. It's more than just using salt and pepper, you have to allow the meat to really absorb the herbs and spices,' he said.
Mr Rosembert's care and attention to recipes goes further than merely marination. He buys all of his ingredients locally (and many of his spices directly from Magdalen Street) but brings a few hard-to-obtain oddities, including cinnamon bark, back from trips to the Caribbean.
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He also says because St Lucian cuisine is naturally gluten-free (wheat doesn't grow easily in the tropics) customers at his restaurant can expect that all 52 dishes on the menu will be safe for Celiacs. The same goes for his book, which is perfect for gluten-free eaters.
Mr Rosembert credits his sense of dedication to craft and entrepreneurship to childhood experiences in the Caribbean.
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'St Lucia back then was like a third world country, we didn't have electricity or gas. We'd go hunting and fishing and I'd have to clean and prepare all of it myself.
'Any excess fish we had - a lot of Tilapia - we would sell to the old ladies. I think my entrepreneurial spirit started from that,' he said.
To officially launch his book, Mr Rosembert is hosting a free dinner on December 3 at 6.30pm for old and new customers alike. All he asks in return is donations for the Sickle Cell Society.
'I love what I do and because I love what I do, everything has to be perfect. I enjoy meeting my customers. I've done well for myself and I feel like I should give something back,' he said.
To reserve a spot at the charity dinner, email email@example.com, and to buy a copy of the book, visit www.chezdenis.co.uk.