Hey Mon Caribbean Cooking Magic tempts with tastes of the islands

Husband and wife team Errol and V. Dianna Bishop can be found at the St. Pete Pier Marketplace.

BY JOYCE NANETTE JOHNSON, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Surrounded by swaying palm trees and balmy breezes under the shade of a solar roof, the Marketplace sits at the St. Pete Pier entrance. It offers a unique shopping experience for visitors. More importantly, it has become an opportunity for more than 17 local vendors to showcase their distinctive and diverse wares.

The area is reminiscent of an international outdoor bazaar with billowing tents and kiosks that offer products that range from jewelry, soaps and lotions, home accents, sweet desserts and more.  Hey Mon Caribbean Cooking Magic, LLC is one of those vendors looking to entice you with their flavorful products.

Hey Mon Caribbean Cooking Magic specializes in sauces, marinades, spices and food reflective of Caribbean cuisine. Sauces with names such as Spicy Mango, Papaya Apple Marinade and Pineapple Orange Sauce bring tantalizing tastes of tropical fruit.

At the same time, curry, jerk and stewed cabbage spices offer an introduction to Caribbean cooking. For those less timid, you can try Mustard Pepper, HoLé Sheet Sauce and their original Private Stock Hot Sauce that started it all.

Husband and wife team Errol and V. Dianna Bishop launched their first restaurant in northwest Washington, D.C., called Dianna’s West Indian Foods in 1971. Three years later, a second location opened in the Howard University area, and they added Dianna’s Caribbean Cooking at the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

At each restaurant table was a bottle of Private Stock Hot Sauce, a unique sauce created by Errol Bishop when he was a teenager in his native Trinidad and Tobago.

The Bishops moved to West Virginia in 1986 and opened the Calypso Restaurant in Dunbar. It was there that the idea of marketing their special hot sauce was brought to life. Word and praise grew about the unique condiment, and the couple decided to bottle and market their own sauces after not being satisfied with the standards of local bottlers.

“None of them were willing to make the sauce without any chemicals or preservatives,” V. Dianna Bishop explained. “We’re as natural as we can be.  We joined the Southern U.S. Trade Association and learned to bottle and market for mass production.”

The Bishops relocated to Florida in 2000.  Hey Mon’s™ Café is their latest restaurant and combo store located in Brandon. They offer eat-in, takeout and are on most home delivery services.

They also sell sauces, spices and two original beverages: Hey Mon Ginger Beer, a non-alcoholic drink made with ginger root, and Hey Mon Sorrel, a beverage made from flowers. You can also buy a copy of their cookbook called “Hey Mon Caribbean Cooking Magic Cookbook.”

Since Errol Bishop is not always able to be at the restaurant, they are now offering frozen meals. These authentic, handmade meals are flash-frozen, which keeps the freshness in. Their frozen dinners include jerk or curry chicken, oxtail stew, salmon with spicy mango sauce and vegetarian dishes.

The Bishops said their expansion to the St. Pete Pier Marketplace could not have come at a better time. The pandemic has decreased their business dramatically.

“The restaurant is slower,” explained V. Dianna Bishop. “All of our other vendor shows that we usually attend were canceled due to COVID. But with our marketing on our website and our presence at the Pier, our business has increased.”

Recipes from “Hey Mon Caribbean Cooking Magic Cookbook”

Curried Potatoes (Allo) 

2 lbs. potatoes (white)

2 cups water

1/2 stick margarine

1 Tbsp. curry powder

1 medium onion

2 tsp. hot sauce (optional)

1 Tbsp. seasoning salt

1 tsp. garlic powder (Or use Hey Mon’s Curry Spice or Our New Sauce)

1/3 bottle Hey Mon Caribbean Cooking Magic Curry Spice; can be substituted for the dry spices or 4 Tbsp. of Curry Sauce

Peel potatoes, wash and cut into cubes. In a sauce pan or skillet put one cup water, margarine and curry powder over medium fire for 10 minutes. This will improve the flavor. Add potatoes, onions, hot sauce and dry spices. Add remaining water, cover and cook for 45 minutes. Delicious with Roti bread.

Serves 4-6

Allo can have many uses:

  • As filler for small deep-fried dough balls called Allo pies. On the Island they are dipped in hot sauce
  • As sandwich filler for Roti bread with curried beef or other meat or vegetables Wrapped up like a big burrito- it’s called Beef Roti.

 

Hey Mon’s Curried Chicken

(Caribbean Style)

4 lbs. chicken

4 Tbsp. vinegar

1 oz. Hey Mon Caribbean Combined Curry Spice

1 medium onion

1 Tbsp. Hey Mon Caribbean Private Stock Hot Pepper Sauce

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. Olive oil

Use one whole chicken – cut up, or chicken breasts if preferred. (Chicken may be with bone or de-boned) Place chicken in pan with vinegar and water. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.

In a large skillet or pot, add 2 cups of hot water, Olive oil and Curry Spice. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Drain vinegar and water off chicken and add chicken to curry.

Add all dry spices. Cover pot and allow chicken to boil on medium fire for 20 minutes. Add all other ingredients and cook for 15 minutes more. Be sure to keep covered and cook on medium to moderate fire to enhance the flavor and so that it will make good gravy.

Serve with your favorite vegetables. Great with rice or roti bread. (Caribbean/East Indian Bread/wrap)

Serves: 4-6.

Hey Mon’s Caribbean Foods is located at 1213 Kingsway Rd, in Brandon. For a taste of Hey Mon’s on this side of the Bay, head down to the Pier in downtown St. Pete.

For more information, visit www.heymonsauces.com or call 813-502-5710.

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