One of the best street food stalls in London reopened in Elephant and Castle this week. Chef Faye Gomes’ Kaieteur Kitchen returned to its premises on the edge of the shopping centre yesterday and will serve a daily changing menu of Guyanese stews, curries, rice dishes, and pastries Tuesday to Friday until it is forced to relocate this September.
Gomes closed Kaieteur Kitchen when lockdown was announced in April; three weeks ago she restarted a home collection service for regular patrons on Fridays and Saturdays, which she described as “an experience!” This morning Gomes told Eater that lockdown had taken its toll on her for over a month, but that she was happy to have been able to return this week. Yesterday, she said, “was a bit quiet, but a very positive day.”
“During the lockdown it was bit difficult missing the usual location and missing my community,” Gomes added, recalling the last three months. “It was a bit frustrating because I’m so used to being outside serving and greeting customers, you know? I’m just happy to be able to do my passion and make people happy.”
She was now “looking forward to raising the standard of the menu” and introducing new dishes, which draw on the multifarious culinary influences and colonial legacies of Guyana. “We will have a more traditional menu on Saturdays. I’m full of energy and I can’t wait to meet and serve old friends and meet new ones,” she said. Gomes’ place in the community is significant — many of Kaieteur Kitchen’s customers have been returning on a regular basis since it first opened in 2003. Gomes’ is a reputation that led Eater contributor Jonathan Nunn to observe in a profile of the chef last March that “the boundary between Gomes and what she cooks is so porous it barely exists, the food is an extension of her personality: earthy, generous, big-hearted. She expresses her love of people by feeding them, and people respond in kind.”
Gomes says she’s used the break as an opportunity to develop new dishes, with one eye on the permanent relocation to a nearby unit which she is expecting to complete this September. That comes as a result of the controversial decision to demolish the Elephant and Castle shopping centre, but Gomes is upbeat, despite having only seen digital plans of the new space. “I am feeling confident — and really looking forward to that place, it’s a new beginning,” she said.
Before that unconfirmed move date, Gomes says that she’ll serve the “same Caribbean menu with new twists — a different mixture of dishes so that everybody feel welcome.” Most of her traditional food, such as the pepper pot, garlic pork, cow foot souse, or the yellow lentil soup she made recently with salted pigs tail, oxtail, and cow feet will remain but, generally, she plans to cut down on meat dishes. “I’ve been more looking into the vegan and vegetarian side of meals,” she said. “Using different types of vegetables, in different sauces, that are more nutritious. “Stuff that people can appreciate,” she added. “Lots of coconut ... and ginger.”
The longer Gomes talks, the more reasons she gives to visit Kaieteur Kitchen: She spoke of the fish with tomato she was preparing for today’s menu, a curry which comes with potato, green mango, okra, and coconut; the stewed brown chicken which, like the pepper pot, is coloured and enriched with casareep, a liquid extraction from cassava root, as well as clove and cinnamon; stew pumpkin; vegetable curry made with potato, green mango, okra, and spinach; coconut lamb with sweet potatoes; fried plantains; chickpea salad; and fry bakes with salt fish; cheese rolls, patties, pineapple tarts, and pholourie.
335-336 Elephant and Castle, SE1 6TB
10.30 – 20:00 Tuesday – Friday
12:00 – 18:00 Saturday