Omari McQueen, aged 11, has just opened his first pop-up restaurant in Croydon, serving Caribbean food made from plant-based ingredients.
The youngster wanted to become a chef after learning to cook while his mum Leah fell ill with ‘paralysing’ migraines. Despite being brought up on a meat-based diet, Omari decided to become vegan after watching campaigner videos online. His pop-up boasts the finest Caribbean food made from plant-based ingredients.
The talented cook learns his recipes by watching Youtube videos and identifies his spices and seasonings by smell as he struggles with dyslexia.
Mum Leah says that Omari even teaches her how to make some of his tricks. Omari’s pop-up debuted in Boxpark, Croydon, after he contacted the park’s CEO and wowed him so much that he offered the space rent-free for a week.
‘I feel good about opening up the restaurant. I am really excited about it. I’ve always wanted to become a chef,’ said Omari. ‘I’m hoping lots of people will come along and find it tasty.’
When his mum was sick and his dad had to provide, it fell on Omari’s older brother to cook but he had no interest in it. So Omari, then aged seven, stepped up to the plate.
‘I want to open a [permanent] restaurant in Boxpark. I think it will be really fun, and so many people will come to my restaurant,’ he added. ‘Loads of people will want to talk to me about my menu. I’m hoping that I bring people together. Food can do that.’
Leah claims their whole family, including cousins and grandmothers, will be coming to help Omari cook during his pop-up – although he will be giving out strict instructions as head chef.
She said: ‘Omari is really inspiring and we’re so proud of him. He’s serious about his business but he’s still an 11-year-old boy who likes to play computer games and run around playing football. He’s not thinking about who is coming or how many followers he will get – he’s not thinking about that. He just wants to see people enjoying his food. ‘He is so humble. He is such a humble child. He believes in helping others. He says “I’m going to change the world, just watch me”.
Leah and husband Jermaine McQueen, who works as a bus driver, are also helping Omari to fund his dream. They’ve started a crowdfunding page to get the restaurant up and running. ‘It’s definitely not easy. We’re not a rich family doing this for our son. He’s come from a background of a working-class family with six children,’ added Leah.
Omari has won awards for his vegan dip range – the profits of which are funding his Dipalicious pop-up restaurant.
Original source: www.zebtales.com