Meet This Trinidadian Ambassador of Caribbean Flavor

Lisa Nelson, a native of Trinidad, is at the stove in the back kitchen of Hank’s Meat Market in New Orleans preparing the next dish of Caribbean meal.


Get there around noon, or 12:30 p.m. if she’s running late, and ask Nelson what she has to eat. She’ll lift up the lids on steam trays full of her Trinidadian home cooking. Depending on the day, her mood and what’s available, Nelson might have curry fish, curry goat or fragrant jerk chicken that’s moist inside and as dark as charcoal outside.

“The jerk chicken is Jamaican, but I’m Trinidadian and making it. So it’s still Trinidadian,” Nelson said.

The brave can add a drop of her homemade hot sauce, orange like a ripe mango and fiery enough to make your eyes water.

Nelson, who bills herself as “Queen Trini Lisa” now that she’s started working at festivals and popping up occasionally at bars, didn’t plan to become a cook. She and her partner, fellow Trinidadian native Eclif Pesnell, bought the corner business two years ago. They have four kids together who hang around the store on the weekends. Those kids needed to be fed.

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