“I was born in Port Au Prince, Haiti. My parents migrated here in the late ’70s and worked for pennies. It took a long time for them to gather enough money to bring my siblings and me here to the states.
Shortly after arriving, I witnessed the relentless, hard-working environment that my siblings and I had moved into. I rarely saw my parents when I was a kid, but my mom always cooked for us. There was a meal on the table no matter what. She worked and worked, but still made the time to make our dinner. Her meals were her way of showing us that although she wasn’t physically present, she loved us."
"I attended Stony Brook University and got married shortly thereafter. The marriage was a bad experience that didn’t last long. Shortly after the marriage ended, my brother, a Baltimore police officer, encouraged me to put my bad marriage behind me. He suggested that I focus on healing and starting over. So I did. Around that time I was in a bad car accident and landed in shock trauma for two months. The accident helped me put things in perspective. I was able to think about where I’d been and how much life was yet to come.
My current wife, Chanel, visited me every day while I was recovering. It’s what brought us together. Once I managed to leave the hospital, I moved in with Chanel. We were both coming out of bad marriages and figuring out how we were going to make life work as a couple."
"Chanel had mastered the basics of American cooking so she cooked every day during my recovery. I appreciated her cooking for me, but I liked the special cuisine my mom spoiled me with when I was a child. Mom’s cooking was hard to match. I was stuck on the couch without a job and Chanel was burning out from her teaching job. I began thinking of a way for Chanel to learn Mom’s cooking style. My idea was to sell our food together.
We began trying recipes. Chanel tried creating many different dishes, waiting for my approval. Before long, the food was tasting very close to how I remembered it.
To test what others thought of her recipes, we rented a table for $25.00 at a county flea market. Chanel got very overwhelmed about keeping the food warm and having enough for everyone. I calmed her down and reassured her that all would be well.
I was the frontman handing out little samples of Haitian food at the flea market. Chanel was behind the table. Before we knew it, we had a line. We took home close to $700.00 in profit that day from selling food at just $7.00 a plate. We sold out of everything.
After selling out of everything for several weeks at the flea market, due to management issues, we chose to move on. Our sales and the love of Chanel’s food encouraged us and helped us realize we should continue on our path."
"We eventually got accepted into the Pratt and Light Street Thursday Lunch Market. By this time, we’d married and had one child so we were juggling a lot. Our first day at that market was stressful. We were running behind and nobody was in our line. We unwrapped the trays that were holding the food and the aroma took over the market. All of a sudden, we had a line of over 25 people. There was a vendor next to us who encouraged us. She told us that she had been doing markets for seven years and that she was making a good living. Her words gave us the faith we needed. With the right products, we could make it happen. Later that day she tried one of our rice bowls. After one bite, she said, ‘Oh this is good. This is really good.’ That’s the moment Chanel gained her confidence and ultimately it’s what gave us the extra boost to pursue Sobeachy full time."