Chef’s new Caribbean restaurant proves a hit with the community


Tarell Mcintosh, or “Chef Tee,” has accomplished more than most in his 26 years.

After trying his hand at Michelin-starred restaurants, school education and fashion marketing, his latest adventure took him to the heart of Lambeth, to a pop-up restaurant catering to the needs of the community.

New to Wandsworth Road, ‘Sugar Cane’ can be spotted by its hand-painted illuminated signs, which greet passers-by in the friendly Caribbean restaurant inside.

“Caribbean cuisine is unique – either you understand it right or you get it wrong. It takes a lot for people to come here as a new business, when it isn’t burgers or pizza, ”said Chef Tee.

But serving up hearty portions of down-to-earth food and the option of BYOB, Sugar Cane is sure to become a neighborhood favorite.

For beginners, Chef Tee recommends keeping it simple.

“Akee and salted fish. It’s actually the national dish of the Caribbean, even if everyone thinks of their jerk chicken. Western consumers generally don’t know what it is.

“Historically, it has to do with slavery, like on long journeys people salt cod, and akee is a plant pod that grows on trees. It’s like a scrambled egg but with a texture. much lighter.

“Every time I give people a sample, they end up ordering a whole dish. So that’s my recommendation. And my cakes, Disaronno Bread Pudding and Rum Banana Cake seem to blow people up! ”

But since opening last month, Sugar Cane’s contribution to the community has stood out as much as its dishes.

Inspired by his own care education, Chef Tee is committed to hiring care leavers as employees in his restaurant.

“After spending time in nursing homes as a teenager, I managed to land my first job at the age of 17 in a little cafe in Balham.

“This work has been the keystone of my career. It allowed me to learn to cook and to move on to a restaurant, it all happened with that one opportunity, ”said the 26-year-old.

He was able to save money and rent an apartment, while working at gourmet restaurants in Brixton and the West End.

Now he wants to give other young people a foot on the ladder.

“I know what restaurants have done for me, so I want these kids to have at least one shift a week, so that they can learn the skills they need to be able to progress on their own.”

“With me, they can get food and hygiene qualifications, customer service experience, practical CVs, even a good reference. ”

Health precautions and menus at Sugar Cane

Chef Tee was never formally trained, learning his culinary skills through trial and error over the years. He says his crowd favorite chocolate cake took him three years, and countless late nights, to perfect.

Having his own restaurant has always been his dream, but for years he struggled to get a local after being outbid by big chains.

So he started a private home catering business, establishing a close relationship with suppliers in Vauxhall and Brixton, where he is still committed to sourcing organic produce from today.

But when Chef Tee stumbled upon a closed shop in Lambeth in early July, he knew he had found his golden opportunity.

The next month was a labor of love – and 20-hour workdays – knocking down walls, installing kitchens, fixing electrical and plumbing, and preparing menus.

On August 5, Sugar Cane finally opened its doors – a restaurant that was entirely its own vision.

Wandsworth weather:

Sugar cane interiors

“Working in gourmet restaurants was so stressful I really wanted something relaxed,” Chef Tee said.

And with large sharing platters served with portions of “tropical blessings,” the cane is anything but sultry.

Although service is not included, the menu says, “If you enjoyed the service, please tip generously so that I can purchase my personal rum.” ”

Judging by the number of loyal customers, it seems to be working.

“I never see what the customer sees but so far everyone says they feel at home and comfortable. This is the return I want, so I think I did something right!

Even though he says he is moving “step by step”, the young chef has launched a fundraiser, in the hope that his passionate project will one day become permanent.

You can donate here, or find Sugar Cane on Instagram.


Michael M. Tomlin

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