Trav­el­ling the world — in St. B Three new busi­nesses take you from the French Quar­ter to Mali to Trinidad

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - THIS CITY - The Pur­ple Hi­bis­cus

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

Yflat.”

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.

MAU­REEN SCURFIELD / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

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