This is part of a continuing series on individuals and businesses at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market behind Visit Statesboro! at 222 S. Main Street.
12 years at the market and 25 at GSU
Jocelyn Poole, who is of Jamaican heritage, has been a part of the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market for 12 years with her Caribbean Feast vendor table.
In addition to living in Statesboro for three decades, Jocelyn was an employee at Georgia Southern University for approximately 25 years from 1992 to 2017 and retired from there.
Jocelyn said, “I retired in 2017 as an Associate Professor and Head of Information Services at GSU Zach S. Henderson Library.”
Originally, though, she is not from Statesboro nor even the state of Georgia. She was raised in Poolesville, Virginia.
Jocelyn said, “Poolesville is a small town where my family have lived for generations.”
Beyond her Virginian origins, she has researched her Jamaican heritage, which contributes to her dishes and selections of beverages at Caribbean Feast. Her husband’s background, which will be discussed later, does as well.
Jocelyn, who is approachable and helpful at the market, appears to exude humility – especially given her academic, business, and culinary background. (For example, she did not want to be photographed and wanted her staff members, Michelle and Demial, to be shown and noted for the ways that they help her.)
Jocelyn said, “Michelle Walker and her nephew, Demial Tribble, are God-sent especially now that my husband is sick. Michelle worked for us when we had the restaurant. She is very dependable, personable, and professional.”
“I admire her so much because she is raising four of her great-nieces and nephews on her own. Demial is one of the four,” Jocelyn added.
Bringing the Caribbean to Statesboro and to the Market
Noel Wheeler, Jocelyn’s husband, was born and raised in Trinidad and is retired.
Jocelyn said, “People have always enjoyed our food, so when my husband retired he decided he wanted to open a restaurant.”
Noel is a Georgia Southern University alum with degrees in political science and public administration. Although education has always been very important to him, according to the restaurant website, his true dream was to create and own a restaurant. He and his wife pursued the dream together and opened Caribbean Feast on Jan. 5, 2010.
From 2010 to 2017, Jocelyn and her husband ran the brick and mortar restaurant version of Caribbean Feast on 407 Fair Rd. across from El Sombrero.
“We closed in 2017 due to my husband’s health,” Jocelyn said.
Jocelyn still looks after her husband and continues to run the vendor and catering aspects of Caribbean Feast with a small staff.
Jocelyn offers a taste of the islands and some diverse beverages and cuisine to those who attend the market each Saturday, which she has provided since she was at the old location of the market under the tents at Synovus Bank. In 2013, they even had a Caribbean Day back at that location. She has been at the covered location behind the Statesboro Visitors Center since its inception as well.
As per beverages, Caribbean Feast often has Ting, Kola Champagne, Ginger Beer, and Peardrax, which is a pear-flavored fizzy soft drink popular in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Grice Connect” tasted Peardrax, and it tasted naturally sweet with a nice amount of carbonation in it. Ginger beer, which we at “Grice Connect” have tasted before, is just what it sounds like and is a more intense ginger ale. According to some Internet sources, Kola Champagne is dark yellow to light brown in color with a flavor that can be compared with bubblegum or cream soda. Interestingly, it has no connection to “champagne” or “cola.” Finally, Ting is basically a grapefruit soda.
Southern and Caribbean influences with a healthy twist
Jocelyn described her cooking influence as both Southern and Caribbean. She grew up living in the South, but still celebrated her Caribbean heritage. When she started cooking, she experimented with flavors and dishes that incorporated both a southern and Caribbean flavor.
When the couple opened their restaurant, Noel said, “I started cooking at the early age of seven and have been told that I can make boiled water taste good… I’ve always enjoyed cooking and consider it a hobby even now with the opening of the restaurant. I also think of it as an art and a very relaxing outlet for me.”
According to their website, the couple believes the healthy ingredients they use, such as cumin, turmeric and ginger, are what set their restaurant apart from others in Statesboro. Some of the beverages are homemade recipes including their sweet mango tea and sorrel juice that features natural ingredients like hibiscus.
From cumin to turmeric, the aromas of the Feast fill the market
A spicy aroma emanated from a plugged-in warmer behind the Caribbean Feast table at the market a couple of weeks ago, thanks to the variety of spices used in their dishes.
“We use a lot of turmeric, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, thyme, cumin, and paprika,” Jocelyn said.
In the warmer, Caribbean Feast also had what some cultures may see as hand-held meat or vegetable pies. But the correct Caribbean term is “patties.”
Jocelyn said, “In the Caribbean, we call them Patties. We have beef, curry chicken, spinach/cheese, and vegetable. The local folks here like to call them empanadas.”
“Grice Connect” had a meat patty, and it was spicy without being too spicy. Those who like overly mild foods may not enjoy it, but it is succulent and spicy in a good way. Jocelyn said the patties of all varieties are their most popular item at the market, so market-goers must like the spicy qualities of them.
Caribbean Feast has many other dishes at the market as well.
Jocelyn said, “We have jerk chicken, jerk wings, and jerk pulled pork BBQ. The wings and pork also have a sweet and tangy taste.”
An aromatic bouquet surrounds Caribbean Feast’s table at the market.
“We occasionally serve curry chicken and curry goat along with oxtails,” Jocelyn added. “Our favorite sides are rice and peas, plantains, and cabbage.”
Oxtails and goat have gone up in price, according to Jocelyn. The price of meat has affected businesses as well as individual shoppers at grocery stores.
“Oxtails are one of our best sellers, but they are really expensive,” she said. “Goat has also become costly. Last year, we paid between $5.00 – $7.00 per pound for oxtails and now it’s between $9.00-$14.00 per pound. The price has doubled.”
New location has been prime for the Feast
The Statesboro Farmers Market season ends with the Shopping by Lantern Light event on Tuesday, Nov. 22 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. as a way for people to do Thanksgiving and holiday shopping by festive lantern light. The final Saturday market will happen before then. Caribbean Feast will continue to participate in the market but will not be at Shopping by Lantern Light.
Jocelyn said, “The new covered facility is great! We don’t have to worry about the rain and your things flying all over the place when there is a strong wind. Having working electrical outlets is a big plus.”
“I love the new location of the market and the amenities are just great. The business has improved. It’s a ‘happy place’ with the people walking their beautiful dogs and kids.” I am just happy to be a part of it all!” Jocelyn exclaimed.
Catering and Market2Go
Jocelyn said Caribbean Feast will continue to go to a few events and festivals and will offer catering after the market season ends and will probably return to the market in the new season. Jocelyn said they do not have a food truck, but they do have warmers for food for the tables they set up.
Also, Caribbean Feast has done some major catering jobs in “The Boro”. According to their Facebook page, for example, they have catered a large event celebrating Excellence and Diversity in the Russell Union at Georgia Southern University for over a decade. For several years, Caribbean Feast catered for the Statesboro Regional Sexual Assault Center (Teal House) annual fundraiser “Caribbean Night.” Jocelyn served on Board of the S.R.S.A.C.
Market2Go will still be an option to have access to their delicacies, as well.
“We will still have Market2Go online and folks will be able to contact us for special delivery and pickup at certain times,” Jocelyn said.
According to her, one delicacy on the online ordering service in particular is a crowd favorite.
Jocelyn said, “Although Caribbean Feast will not participate at Shopping by Lantern Light, you can order online or call for my famous Drunken Pumpkin Bread made with walnuts, raisins, and rum. You can get it also without the raisins and walnuts. People love this bread and buy it all year.”
According to the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market Facebook page’s information about Market2Go, “If you want to browse a selection of fresh and local produce, as well as milk, meat, and eggs from nearby family farms (and more), try shopping on the Market2Go!”
Ordering is open until 10pm Tuesday for pickup on Thursday at Visit Statesboro!
For more information on Market2Go, see this website:
For more information about Caribbean Feast, go to their website at Caribbeanfeastboro.com .