Group's Caribbean cuisine helps empower women

Conch ceviche with mango, blood oranges and lemon, and griot made with braised pork shoulder, peppers and onions were some of the crowd’s favorites at the Taste of the Caribbean event hosted by the Ladies Of Valor Empowerment organization. The founder and president, Alourdes Pierre who started the organization from her living room seven years ago, was overjoyed to see how much they’ve grown.

“It was a great event. It was exciting, and the food was great,” said Pierre, who sent a letter to Johnson and Wales University’s president in hopes that they could help her put on the event. “Overall, I’m happy. The school donated everything. The Johnson & Wales students were great.”

During the event, guests visited ten food stations that displayed appetizers, entrees and desserts — all of which were prepared by students majoring in food-service management and operations at Johnson & Wales University. Anthony Stafford, a senior at JWU, was the head chef for the event. He said the students felt that they could add their own personal touch to the dishes because of their Caribbean heritage.

“We took on the Haitian culture in every dish, but we wanted to add our spin on it, and also a Miami spin, a Latin spin, and Cuban culture and Puerto Rican culture” said Stafford.

The griot and tasso were slow-cooked over heat for 48 hours to make sure the meat was rich in flavor. For dessert, the guests had a sweet taste of Haiti and Puerto Rico through the flan and tres leche dishes.

“It’s a very fun play on what the Haitian culture and Hispanic culture have come to create especially here in Miami,” said Stafford.

Pierre planned for two months for the event that combined many signature Caribbean dishes. Pierre, who is Haitian-American, decided to embrace the diversity of the South Florida community instead of only serving Haitian dishes because she serves women from many cultures.

“I love helping women, no matter who they are or where they are from. It’s about love,” said Pierre, who nicknamed her female members “L.O.V.E. Ladies.”

The organization hosted the Jan. 29 event to raise funds for underprivileged women who need assistance. Ladies of Valor Empowerment began in 2006 helping women with job placement, financial planning and life coaching.

Around 80 guests attended the reception, which was located in a ballroom at the Johnson & Wales University center.

Nahomie Mirville, who is a nurse and president of the Haitian-American Nurses Association, which goes by the name HANA, said the food was delicious and that the taste was authentic to the culture. Mirville, who is Haitain-American, said she could appreciate the taste of the Caribbean menu.

“The event was awesome, and I loved the food. Actually, my favorite was the tres leche, the dessert. It was very good,” said Mirville.

HANA, whose members were in strong attendance, partnered with Ladies of Valor Empowerment two years ago to host health fairs for the women who are assisted by the organization.

“The partnership with HANA and L.O.V.E. has been in place since 2010,” Mirville said. “It was a given, and it has been a blessing to have the two organizations work together.”