In the Name of Love and Community

Sarah Kirnon has a richly layered relationship with the Caribbean. She was born in Leicestershire, England, to a father from Antigua and a mother from Barbados. Wanting to shield their children from the racism still ripe in late-1960s England, they sent her to live with her maternal grandmother and great-grandmother in Barbados at age four. She moved back to England when she was 13, and then returned to the Caribbean as an adult before eventually moving to Oakland, Calif., and opening her restaurant, Miss Ollie’s.

“I tend to refer to myself as West Indian; I don’t say I’m British,” Kirnon says. “I was a very involved child: inquisitive and always eating. I think your senses and stimulation are open then, and that’s why I returned to cooking West Indian food.” Named for her grandmother, Miss Ollie’s folds together the sensibilities of a contemporary chef with the cuisine of her home. For Kirnon, Caribbean cuisine means comfort at the core, and that’s what she cooks to share.
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