Chef Jae-Anthony Dougan was so busy running his first restaurant and catering company that he didn’t make it past week 6 of culinary school. But his television debut this year on Top Chef Canada should help establish that the self-taught chef knows plenty. So does the success of his two new pan-Caribbean restaurants — a pop-up in the Ottawa City Centre complex that sells takeout and freshly ground spice blends, and the far more upscale Tropikàl, on a restaurant-heavy stretch of Montreal’s Notre-Dame West, which Dougan calls “Joe Beef Street.” Tropikàl’s winter takeout menu featured casual Caribbean menu items like channa doubles, chicken rotis and Dougan’s ultimate expression of “Caribbécois fusion” — jerk chicken poutine. Come summer, though, he will be upping his game with oxtail birria tacos and Jenga towers of deep-fried Alaskan crab. Expect techniques and seasonings to be deployed from his mother’s native Barbados, his father’s Trinidad, and even Panama. “I want to touch on long marination and deep flavours,” Dougan says of the binding culinary theme. When dine-in returns, there will be rum pairings and farm-to-table platters. And note, there is a 20-seat private dining room.
Photo Credit: Kevin Hemrage