Fredericton chef has temporarily lost palate
Naz Ali, of Caribbean Flavas, can't taste test his food while observing Ramadan
Naz Ali, the chef and owner at Caribbean Flavas in Fredericton, has temporarily lost his palate.
Ali is a practising Muslim who observes Ramadan, so he can't eat or drink from dawn until dusk during the holy month, which is presenting problems for his business.
Although Caribbean Flavas has been up and running for nine years, Ali still tests every dish before it's carried away to a customer.
Now, he needs to rely on other senses to make sure his food is cooked the way he wants it.
"I kind of have to listen for that and listen to how it should sound when it's done. How it should smell, how it should look," he said.
Ali, who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, says many of his relatives return there during Ramadan because the days are shorter.
In Canada, Ramadan means hours without food, water, or any vice at all.
"We actually start from 3:15 a.m., somewhere around there, to about 9:15 p.m.," he said.
Ali says he wouldn't trade it, though. The virtues he learns during Ramadan help him not only in faith, but his everyday life, he said.
"It builds that patience, it builds the endurance. It builds everything. It makes me a stronger believer in religion, in myself."
Ramadan continues until Aug. 8.
Ali is no stranger to struggle. When he came up with a plan for what he calls an "ethnic restaurant" in Fredericton, many people told him he would fail.
He was in university when he drew up a business plan for what would become Caribbean Flavas. The plan merited a low grade and Ali lost his scholarship.
"Didn't get any funding, didn't get any help from some of the entrepreneurial companies," said Ali.
"My parents came and friends and family, with my parents, backed it financially."
Nine years after Caribbean Flavas opened its doors, the fusion food is still popular.