In the Diaspora: Priscilla Huagie, Founder of MyCaribKitchen
My name is Priscilla Huagie, I'm a Half Ghanaian, half Jamaican University Student from North West London. I've always been a dreamer but I believe a turn in my life came after I was estranged from my parents as a young teen which knocked my confidence drastically. As time went on however, I began to develop a real desire to be successful and make my loved ones proud.
JF: What is your name and what do you do?
PH: My name is Priscilla, I currently study at Middlesex University and I have a food business called My Carib Kitchen. Fun fact – I am off dual heritage – my Dad is Ghanaian and my Mum is Jamacian.
JF: What is your favourite Ghanaian dish?
PH: I go to Ghana every year, my favourite Ghanaian food - gosh there are so many – I love red-red and I also really do love kenkey.
JF: Being African and Caribbean, I presume there can be some underlying tensions. How have you dealt with this?
PH: I am still working on it! I think people underestimate the tensions that may arise being of dual-heritage. I find that the dynamics of the strain changes every year, especially in instances where I find myself gearing towards one side more than the other. Thankfully, my parents managed to keep my brothers and I in touch with both cultures and there are some great similarities. My parents have moved back to Ghana now so it is great to visit them back there too!
JF: So, how did your love for cooking develop?
PH: When I was younger, I didn’t like being told to cook. My mum would literally tell me what to cook, what time and I hated it (sorry Mum!). I wanted the freedom to experiment with flavours. I knew I had made it when my Grandma started eating my cooking and began asking me to cook certain things at family get-togethers.
JF: How did you get into food blogging and then starting up your business?
PH: I have always wanted to have a business of my own. A few years ago, I went to a business seminar a few years ago and there were a number of amazing women in business talking about their journey. Deliciously Ella, a prominent food blogger was there and hearing her story motivated me. I started by blog in October 2017, initially as a way to relieve stress and share some of the authentic Jamaican recipes I had been taught over the years by my Mother and Grandmother. I also used the blog to share my thoughts on any number of issues, especially regarding staying productive and motivated. The blog proved very popular and I was constantly getting asked by people to try some of the food I would post - so I turned it into a business 'Mycaribkitchen' (short for Caribbean) where the public can place an order during the week, either for collection or delivery every Sunday evening.
JF: What has been a challenge you have faced thus far in running your business?
PH: Honestly, staying on top of things and managing my time as I am still studying can be pretty overwhelming. I tend to take on a lot of things but I would say, choosing to do something you genuinely enjoy will help you stay motivated during these times.
JF: How have you worked to build your blog and brand?
PH: I am always looking for new and innovative ways to keep my followers engaged. I created a YouTube channel, beginning with an online series titled ‘The Dutch Pot Diaries’ where I focus on various countries and attempt to learn a little about their cuisine and finally attempt at cooking something from each one.
JF: You mentioned that your parents now live in Ghana. Are you interested in moving back?
PH: I would, a couple of years ago, no but now I am very open to the idea of moving back. I would also like to explore West Indies more.
JF: What do you think we as Ghanaians in the UK can do to add to the development of Ghana?
PH: Maximise the opportunities you have here and see how the skills and experience you have can help in any way. I always advise my younger cousins that are interested in working or moving abroad, not just Ghana, to ensure that they study and work within a field that allows a smooth transition. For example, I am currently training to be a teacher and would love to take my interest in the education system and teaching, back to Ghana and hopefully build a school. My Aunt has a school in Ghana at the moment and that is a big motivation for me.
JF: Education is a big part of us being able give back. Finally, what advice would you give to other young people in business?
PH: Be proactive with your ideas! So many people have ideas but not all of them are followed through. If you want to do something, don’t be that kind of person that just has the idea but takes no action. Definitely do something you enjoy because that will keep you motivated. Also in business, be prepared for the ebbs and flows. Things will not always be great but have fun and embrace the lessons.
JF: What does the future hold for Priscilla and My Carib Kitchen?
PH: I would love to write a cookbook and find a way to really fuse my two cultures together in food. If you haven’t tried jollof rice and jerk chicken yet, you are honestly missing out! In the future, I will definitely be opening a restaurant with the hopes of it becoming a chain of restaurants in the UK and hopefully in Ghana too!
Priscilla is an absolute gem and her story and heritage is an interesting one. Being able to embrace both her West Indian and Ghanaian cultures is a real testament to her upbringing. I cannot wait to see her do great things in her professional career and also the growth of MyCaribKitchen. I'll be first in line to purchase that cookbook - hey, I might even give jollof and curry goat a try this weekend too!