Code Noir: A culinary exploration of the Caribbean

On the 1st of October chef, food stylist and culinary activist, Lelani Lewis took us on an exploration through the culinary history of the Caribbean to investigate the effects of colonialism in modern day society. Food is a powerful connector allowing us to connect despite our perceived differences. Using food to present some of these key historical events allows us to reconcile with the dark past of colonialism- making it more digestable.

This workshop demonstrated how the worldwide exchange of goods and movement of people has influenced current-day dishes. Together we made one dish, highlighting the different cultures that intermingled within the Caribbean, the effects of colonialism which resulted in this melting pot cuisine.

Deconstructing Caribbean Food

‘Since 1492, the distinct cultures, peoples, and languages of four continents met in Caribbean waters and intermingled in wave after wave of post Columbian encounter. Foods and their styles of preparation were among the most consumable of cultural elements undergoing transformation’


Lelani Lewis took us past four periods of significance within the history of the Caribbean cuisine. Together we explored the cross-polination of ingredients, people and cultures and how it culminated into this melting pot cuisine.


Lelani Lewis creates inspiring audience experiences with her innovative and vibrant approach to food. Growing up in South London with Grenadian and Irish heritage, Lelani experienced the diversity of food from a young age. She showcases this deep connection to culinary history from around the world in her work.

She became obsessed with the idea of creating a mainstream platform for Caribbean food, modernising it and making it more accessible. With this in mind, she started Nyam, a catering company and roaming restaurant. Whilst on this journey she was struck with the realisation of just how unique, and diverse Caribbean cuisine was. It’s rich history provided inspiration for her to explore further into the cultural impact of food and how the world’s ingredients unravelled beautiful and tragic stories. Caribbean people take for granted the wealth of diversity in their food, looking back through history it’s clear to see that much of the cuisine is born out of adversity.

However, despite this, Caribbean cooks have genuinely triumphed in creating food that is colourful, with a depth of flavour, and imaginary use of ingredients. Code Noir pays homage to these resourceful cooks.

Code Noir takes its name from the 17th Century decree detailing how to maintain the enslaved in the French Colonies of the New World.