Premier Kitchen & Caterers celebrates first anniversary
Members of the Premier Kitchen team (front row, from left) Khadia Omealy, Jean Carter-Brown, Ijah Nunes, and (back row, from left) Sharon Stewart, Jodian McIntosh, executive sous chef, and Kadeem McIntosh.
Celebrating a one-year anniversary is no idle brag, especially after providing a year in service.
Doing so after unveiling your flagship a day before COVID-19 took centre stage, and standing still, is even more of a remarkable accomplishment.
Since inception, the idea to make the Premier brand a corporate entity has been the ultimate goal.
In May of 2019, Premier Enterprise flexed its catering arm and started catering.
On March 10, less than 10 months later, Premier Kitchen leaped into corporate circles when its principals launched their flagship at the Digicel Food Court, downtown Kingston.
Premier Kitchen & Caterers co-principals André Stephens (l) and Odaine Richards.
A few of the buzzwords that popped up when Loop Lifestyle sat down with Premier Enterprise co-founder André Stephens were cosmopolitan, Caribbean fare, fusion, and service, and of course coronavirus.
There was also an underlying pragma love, the kind that allows Stephens and Richards to look beyond the current COVID-19 climate to visualize the opportunities present.
"Even in a crisis you must be able to plan to come out."
These are challenging times for a new business, having rolled up the shutters a day before COVID joined the conversation. Now, it’s all hands on deck as every team member has new responsibilities.
Currently, from a kitchen built to serve 1,000 persons daily, Premier Kitchen makes less than 200 preps each day – an unfortunate side effect of COVID-19.
Among the challenges: having to keep the business sustainable; retaining staff; sourcing produce that’s no longer readily available; implementing untapped marketing strategies to remind customers that Premier Kitchen is still going.
“This has been a game-changing experience… knowing that we’re no longer operating under normal circumstances…we’re experiencing an experience within this experience.”
“The goal is to keep customers satisfied, there’s always something new and exciting,” Stephens said, himself a stickler for service since 2015, when he started working in the event planning industry.
“We have to transform how we do business; we have to meet the customers at their doorsteps; keep them satisfied as best we can; we have to network and market the business.”
Catering to customers from a “Premier Universe” is the way forward, Stephens believes, and he is determined to create that dream along with Richards, Premier Kitchens’ co-principal and operations manager.
Ultimately, positioning Premier Enterprise while maintaining a reputable brand image is the current focus, eventually, managing several franchises across Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Stephens is determined. “If you tell me ‘no’ you motivate me.” Coupled with his ability to spot a challenge a mile away and prepare for it, obstacles are swiftly and easily handled.
Positioning themselves while maintaining a reputable brand image is the current focus, eventually, managing several franchises across Jamaica and the Caribbean.
What about dining?…
The team churns out enticing gourmet food options daily, which include the best-sellers: pork of varying styles including the cinnamon roasted pimento pork and sorrel guava scotch bonnet pigs tail; vegetarians options like the curry pumpkin pineapple stew; their penne puttanessca; Coffee Appleton-glazed chicken; and the Mamma Will Stewed Peas, fashioned off Stephens’ grandmother.
Stephens has an affinity for making sauces and oft gets a kick out of trips to the market to find new ingredients, different herbs and spices to stir the pot.
The team also uses a lot of natural herbs and spices. Now more than ever Stephens, Richards and the team are using herbs and spices that help build the immune system, such as garlic, ginger, pimentos, peppers etc.
And nothing goes to waste. Stephens believes “…nothing in a kitchen really spoils; everything serves a purpose.”
“Food has its season, with additives, you can always keep it going; everything has a purpose in the kitchen. The downfall of many kitchens is cooks/chefs not knowing what to do with unused food.”
The DNA of Premier Kitchen in a nutshell…
1 The premier experience, excellent customer service; staff have been trained by Stephens in one-on-one sessions
2 A fusion of authentic Jamaican fare with a ‘cosmopolitan’ twist from many cultures represented in the food.
3 Aesthetics, making the food look attractive, stylistic, and interesting enough
4 Consistency and presentation because “people love to see evidence of good work.”
Stephens asserted that the Premier Kitchens experience involves adding pizzazz to meals, “presentation is key”, but maintains that Premier Kitchen stands on the shoulders of good customer service and the fusion of cultures in food.
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