5 October 2022
Thomas Tennant and Jonathan Nunez, of Tomfoodery Kitchen + Bar, are reinforcing their efforts to operate an environmentally conscious business that cares for its community through their Food for Fallen Fruit programme, which offers restaurant vouchers for fallen or excess produce.
The initiative began during 2020’s lockdown when Cayman experienced a bumper crop of mangoes. Left without their usual buyers, farmers were forced to discard sellable produce, losing a considerable amount of their income. In an effort to support farmers and combat food waste, Tomfoodery purchased the surplus overripe mangoes at market value for use in a variety of food products including hot sauces and juices.
Food for Fallen Fruit really took shape when Hurricane Grace swept through the following year.
“What we found with Grace was that farmers had all this fruit that they did not intend to pick,” said Nunez. “On the tree they’re good for weeks, but once they hit the ground they have a four- or five-day life. In some cases, they’re breaking, and farmers have difficulty selling the broken fruit.”
With the understanding that farmers and families with fruit-bearing trees were facing unexpected food and economic losses, Tennant and Nunez decided to expand on 2020’s efforts. They took the fruit from local farmers and paid them with food vouchers.
“Especially now, people are finding it difficult to enjoy a meal at a restaurant. What if we were able to give individuals vouchers to Tomfoodery, where they can buy some Cayman-style beef, a sandwich, or take their kids out without having to use salary?”
Following Grace, the business accepted three truckloads of coconuts.
“Chef Thomas is really creative,” Nunez said. “Regardless of their maturity, we can put coconuts into the product – we can turn them into coconut milk, a vegan ceviche, make our Coco-Fiyah hot sauce or use the husks to smoke. I’m a mixologist by trade, and Chef Thomas got me five gallons’ worth of coconut jelly; I turned that into a Bahamian drink called ‘sky juice’ which is condensed milk, coconut jelly and gin. It was wildfire.”
Through the initiative, Tomfoodery is promoting environmental awareness while supporting impacted farmers and families.
“It’s important to be part of the community,” Nunez said. “This is an attempt for us to be mindful to waste, and at the same time afford families the ability to have a meal with their kids where they don’t have to spend $30 out of pocket.”
Though initially designed for hurricane season, Tomfoodery encourages use of the programme year-round.
“What hit us was a news article that there were 600 families that were going hungry. Thomas and I both come from that background, and we wanted to remind people that they can use this programme year-round to assist.”
This article was originally published in the September/October 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.