Chef brings Caribbean flavors to South LA

By Diana Lee

Stuart Eubanks takes his post at the farmers market. | Who's Hungry Instagram

Stuart Eubanks takes his post at the farmers market. | Who’s Hungry Instagram

Every farmers’ market has its share of fresh produce and a selection of gourmet cheese, but chances are, you haven’t encountered Caribbean cuisine. A local chef is now making waves in South L.A. with his interpretation of many flavors in the islands.

Chef Stuart Eubanks has never been to the Caribbean, but is on a mission to bring the diverse flavors to Los Angeles after stumbling on a Jamaican restaurant years ago. Eubanks says his company, Who’s Hungry Food Solutions, is unique because it incorporates flavors from Jamaica, Cuba and Trinidad among other islands.

“Most of the [Caribbean] restaurants you’ll see in L.A. are Jamaican restaurants,” he said. “I love the food, it’s just a lot of other islands are getting left out in the process that just have so much flavor that you wouldn’t think of.”

The palette of rich flavors in his dishes, resulting from the use of various spices, is not something Eubanks experienced while growing up. He relied on pre-packaged foods while growing up in L.A. and Atlanta. Instead, his love for home-cooked flavors came from watching cooking shows.

“I started cooking when I was about 8. I used to watch all the shows on PBS. There was The Frugal Gourmet and The Galloping Gourmet, Paul Prudhomme and Julia Child. That’s how I got into cooking,” Eubanks said.

His first food job was at a fast food restaurant. The chef chuckled as he recalled his time at a nightclub as a prep cook when he was 18. His younger self never would have guessed he’d be working with Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio at The Bazaar in Beverly Hills. Surprisingly, Eubanks discovered Caribbean food randomly while attending the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School.

“One day, I was walking from school and I just walked into a Jamaican restaurant,” he said. “When I was about 20, I used to go to this place in Inglewood all the time, it was called Lee’s. I still go there now.”

Then, an opportunity struck. He had the chance to help open up and develop the menu for Caribbean restaurant Sunny Spot in Venice, started by Roy Choi.

Eubanks wanted to open up his own business to give his twist on the cuisine. He says it’s all about getting people to try unfamiliar foods, for example the ox tail.

“They look at ox tail on the menu and they’re like, “eh, that’s ok,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to describe, but you would say the umami flavor, but it’s so much more on top of that, especially with the spices that I use for it. It’s not something you would have anywhere else.”

The chef hopes to expand to a small restaurant while maintaining the catering services.

Squash scallion skewers |  Stuart Eubanks

Squash scallion skewers | Stuart Eubanks Instagram

You can find Who’s Hungry Food Solutions at the Echo Park Farmers’ Market on Friday afternoonsand Baldwin Hills Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.

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