Travelling the world — in St. B Three new businesses take you from the French Quarter to Mali to Trinidad
name is Ave Dinzey, as in Ave Maria!” announces the effervescent owner and chef at the Purple Hibiscus, 171 Dumoulin Ave.
She’s cooking Caribbean fusion recipes from “when the world was
For the past year, the 49- year- old Trinidadian- Canadian has been creating exotic food at her 28- seat eatery in St. Boniface — a business attached to the front of the St. Boniface Hotel.
She spent 25 years as an international Air Canada flight attendant before retiring to follow her dream. “When I started out, my kids said, ‘ Do people actually pay you to eat the food you’ve been cooking for us all this time?’ I said, ‘ Yes! You have been so spoiled!’ ” The kids are used to exotic dishes Winnipeg customers are just discovering, such as Creole fish with breadfruit.
“Breadfruit is actually a tropical vegetable from a big tree — not a potato, not bread, but it’s a white veggie and is steamed in coconut milk.”
For Dinzey, cooking is an art. “It’s Caribbean fusion, combining foods which are Indian, African, Amerindian, Chinese and Continental. These flavours are mixed to create Creole, West Indian, and Trini foods.” It’s no surprise the place is called the Purple Hibiscus — Dinzey grew up in a large multi- generation house in Princes Town, Trinidad and Tobago, where the whole front entrance was covered with a mass of purple hibiscus flowers. She speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese and English. “I must say I love it in St. Boniface; I’ve been here 18 years. There’s so much character here! It’s close to the city centre, but not in the downtown. And then there’s the attraction called Wayne Dinzey.
“I fell in love with Wayne, whom I’d known 16 years. We were best friends and he kissed me one day, and that was it!” Chances are, you will meet Ave at your table if you stop in. She is noted for coming by with veggies her customers have likely never heard of ( like purple yams) and offering a free taste. And she loves to do the actual cooking. “I do the shopping, cooking, prepping — a one- woman show.” Every night for dinner, she cooks four or five different dishes, such as cumin- flavoured geera pork, or stewed chicken in burned sugar — a taste between caramel and molasses.
Desserts are exotic homemade treats such as mango flan and homemade tropical fruit ice cream she whips up herself.
“I put extra love in your food,” she smiles.