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Taste of Resilience: A Conversation with the Rousseau Sisters and Julia Turshen

  • Museum of Food and Drink 62 Bayard Street Brooklyn United States (map)

“The story of Caribbean food cannot be told without telling the story of Caribbean women. The women of our region—the mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts, the caregivers, the homemakers, the housekeepers and the cooks—are the wheels on which our society turns. Their meals are laced with the aroma of fortitude, the memory of pain, the spicy taste of resilience and a legacy of love that continues to nurture us to this day.”

In their new book, Provisions, sisters Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau chart the matrilineal influence on Jamaican (and by extension Caribbean) food over the past three centuries, through the exploration of their personal ancestry and the intricacies of West Indian plantation society.

Join the Rousseau sisters, in conversation with Julia Turshen, as they celebrate the ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and independent spirit of Caribbean women, who defied enslavement, colonialism, and misogyny to create an enduring culinary legacy that has retained its relevance and timelessness by traversing the lines of race, culture, and class.

An informal reception with book signings, small bites, and cocktails by Shannon Mustipher will follow.

This program is part of our Eat•Drink•Read series, sponsored by W. W. Norton.



Jamaican-born sisters Michelle and Suzanne Rousseau established their culinary reputation with the debut in 1996 of Ciao Bella, a groundbreaking Kingston restaurant that created a paradigm shift with its artful use of Jamaican ingredients and classic cooking techniques.  The restaurant was a manifestation of many years of traveling and living in the Caribbean and Europe, and a curiosity for playing with a medley of cultures and influences.

They share an avid love of history, the arts, languages and culture. Suzanne holds a BA in English Literature with a minor in Art History and has taught English Language and Literature at the local high school level. Michelle holds a BA in Spanish Language and Literature and a MA in Latin American Studies, and has worked with the Jamaican Foreign Service.  Their combined backgrounds, extensive knowledge and avid curiosity informs their unique perspective on West Indian cuisine.

At home, Michelle and Suzanne used their culinary knowledge and effervescent personalities to inspire appreciation for Jamaican traditions with their hugely popular food and travel show,  "Two Sisters and a Meal". They also produced and starred in the web series, Island Potluck, a joint production with the Jamaica Tourist Board.  Their first cookbook, Caribbean Potluck received critical acclaim and was named among NPR's Best Books of 2014.

They have now come full circle as restauranteurs, with the recent opening of Summerhouse at The Liguanea Club in Kingston Jamaica, a Caribbean gastro-pub with the mission to celebrate the soul, heritage and lifestyle of the islands.



Julia Turshen is the bestselling author of Now & Again (named the Best Cookbook of 2018 by Amazon and an NPR ‘Great Read’), Feed the Resistance (named the Best Cookbook of 2017 by Eater), and Small Victories (named one of the Best Cookbooks of 2016 by the New York Times and NPR). She has coauthored numerous cookbooks and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Bon AppétitFood & Wine, and Saveur, and more. She writes a monthly column for Food & Wine called ‘The Interview.‘ Epicurious has called her one of the 100 Greatest Home Cooks of All Time and The New York Times has described her “at the forefront of the new generation of authentic, approachable authors.” She is the founder of Equity At The Table (EATT), an inclusive digital directory of women and non-binary individuals in food, and the host of Keep Calm and Cook On, a podcast. Julia lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife and pets.



Shannon Mustipher is a spirits educator, cocktail consultant, and expert on the topic of rum and cane spirits. She has poured cocktails in settings ranging from neighborhood pubs to Michelin restaurants, and is the founder of Women Who Tiki, a tropical cocktail centric pop-up that gathers a team of women bartenders to share their talents and collaborate on creating a one night only experience.

Shannon's writing and cocktails have been featured in, New York MagazineGQThe Village Voice, and, among others. Her first cocktail book, Tiki - Modern Tropical Drink, will be published by Rizolli in Spring 2019.