Jamaican chefs fulfill their restaurant dreams in Vermont

COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) – Meet two ambitious women from Chittenden County who are determined to make their mark in the restaurant industry by bringing the flavors of Jamaica to their community. In this report, we will delve into their journey, highlighting the obstacles they have faced and the triumphs they have achieved.

Nestled in a Colchester storefront, you wouldn’t expect to find a Jamaican restaurant. But for Shaneall Ferron, this is where she pours her heart and soul into her culinary creations, aiming to bring a taste of her vibrant Jamaican culture to the Green Mountain State.

Shaneall Ferron, the owner of Thingz from Yaad, expressed her desire to transform Vermont into a go-to destination for Jamaican cuisine. Having relocated to Vermont less than three years ago, she found herself longing for the flavors of home. “I started getting homesick and thought to myself, I need some Jamaican food,” she shared.

In February, Ferron embarked on a search for a kitchen space to expand her food production and cater to a larger audience. She recognized a growing demand and market for her culinary creations.

In March, she discovered a location on Mountain View Drive where she currently operates a take-out service. With ambitious aspirations, she envisions transforming it into a complete dining experience. “I want to share this with more people because I’m aware of the love people have for Jamaican cuisine. There’s a strong connection to Jamaican food in Vermont, and I deeply value that,” expressed Ferron.

Being based in a predominantly white state, Ferron expresses no concern about her business facing any setbacks. She highlights the unique aspect of Vermont and its inhabitants, stating, “One thing I love about Vermont is that Vermonters are foodies. They have a great enthusiasm for trying out new culinary experiences.”

Jacqueline Thomas, owner of Country Roads Jamaican Flair, shares that running a catering business in Winooski has presented its challenges, particularly as a woman of color.

In 2021, she began her journey and now she has her own office in the Queen City. However, she feels that it’s not sufficient. Thomas expressed her frustration, saying, “Not everybody respects me as a leader. I hate feeling discriminated against.”

Thomas is motivated to continue doing what she loves for a specific purpose – to make a positive impact on the youth, particularly within their ethnic community. She firmly believes that it is about time for Vermont to have a Jamaican Caribbean restaurant, as there is a growing excitement and appreciation for Jamaican cuisine among the people.

Thomas expressed her desire to educate and inspire others about Jamaican culture. Additionally, she hopes to have a kitchen space where she can teach children how to prepare these types of food. “We are prepared for change. The younger generation holds the key to the future, and it is our responsibility to pass down our knowledge and traditions,” she emphasized.

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