Transport yourself to the Caribbean with holiday rum cake from this purist chef

She can't actually transport you to her kitchen in Trinidad, but Ave Dinzey says eating the food she cooks for you here is the next best thing.

Chef Ave Dinzey of Purple Hibiscus will lead the final Hachere Collective pop-up dinner in Winnipeg on Sunday

Winnipeg chef Ave Dinzey, who owns Purple Hibiscus in St. Boniface, will bring a Caribbean menu to the final Hachere pop-up dinner on Sunday. (Submitted by Ave Dinzey)

She can't actually transport you to her kitchen in Trinidad, but Ave Dinzey says eating the food she cooks for you here is the next best thing.

"My flavours are simple, but I'm a purist," the Winnipeg chef said of her Caribbean cooking.

"To me, you could close your eyes and the only thing missing is the sand between your toes."

Dinzey, who moved to Winnipeg at 12 from Trinidad, said she spent 25 years as a flight attendant before she was ready for something different. She turned to her real love: cooking.

She wanted to expand Winnipeg's Caribbean culinary scene beyond the classic roti, so she opened Purple Hibiscus, a 28-seat restaurant in St. Boniface. She worked 20-hour days for three years before closing up the shop and converting to catering.

"My feet were in a mess, they were bleeding, they were in bad shape," she said. "The decision, reluctantly, was made to close the restaurant."

Dinzey's grandparents were Trinidadian street food vendors, as were her great aunts and uncles. They were two joined families — two sisters and a brother who married two brothers and a sister — who worked together.

Dinzey credits them with the invention of doubles, a staple street food in Trinidad consisting of a type of flatbread called a bara topped with subtly curried chickpeas and drizzled with tamarind.

She still serves doubles at every pop-up dinner she does, she said. She's done 15 or 16 in the past three years and has another one coming up Sunday: the final instalment of a series of pop-up dinners run by chef group the Hachere Collective.

The dinners have run every Sunday starting in October at Marion Street Eatery, led by various chefs in the group. Dinzey led the first one and she'll close the series out, too.

"It's a lot of us in a really small kitchen space, but we work so well together we almost don't even need to speak," Dinzey said of the collective.

"Everybody's talented in their own way. And they bring their own flavours, their own vision of food, you know, to the table. And what I really like is everybody's individual, but we all share this love of food. And now we share this love of each other."

Trini Black Cake, a.k.a Caribbean Rum Cake

A wintertime classic in the Caribbean, Dinzey says.

Fruit mix


  • 750 ml rum
  • 1 cup cherry brandy.

1 pound each of:

  • Sultanas.
  • Raisins.
  • Seedless Prunes.
  • Currants.
  • Mixed Peel.
  • Cherries.


Step 1 — Mix all together and let marinate for a minimum of 3 weeks.



  • Browning (a burnt sugar mixture, available to most ethnic grocery stores).
  • 8 large eggs.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • 5 drops angostura bitters.
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  • ½ teaspoon allspice.
  • 1 pound brown sugar.
  • 1 pound unsalted butter.


Step 1 — Add baking powder, ground cinnamon and all spice to flour.

Step 2 — Cream butter and sugar.

Step 3 — Mix in eggs, two at a time.

Step 4 — Add vanilla extract and bitters and mix.

Step 5 — Drain the marinating fruit, and add three to four cups of fruits, or to your liking.

Step 6 — Add browning to get a nice dark colour.

Step 7 — Slowly fold in flour and spices; add in three parts.

Step 8 — Add to buttered and floured cake pan.

Step 9 — Bake at 300 F for approximately two hours or until cooked.

Step 10 — As soon as you remove from the oven, brush the top with rum.

Let cool completely before removing from the pan, then keep in an airtight container.  It's best to wait three to four days before serving.


With files from Nadia Kidwai