From Haiti to the Chehalem Valley
For more than a decade, Wilfrid Similien's day job had little to do with his passion for cooking. But when he and his wife Gamintz decided to move to Oregon from Orlando, Fla., in 2013, he reignited that flame – literally – and started his own barbecue business while he was cooking for a brewery in Keizer.
G&W Caribbean Smoked BBQ is a food truck that introduces the flavors of Gamintz and Wilfrid's native Haiti to the streets of Newberg, located for the past two weeks at the Bite of Newberg food pod on First Street.
"I worked in several restaurants when I was younger," Wilfrid said. "I enjoyed doing it. When I served my food to the customers they loved it and I was proud of it.
"Last year I started with just the smoker and this year we got the food truck. We've been doing it for about two years and I love it. Cooking is something I really enjoy."
What began as a way to make a few extra bucks from friends around the holidays is now a full-fledged business for the couple.
The initials of the couple's first names are the inspiration for G&W's name and the food they both enjoyed growing up in Haiti inspires many of the recipes.
Wilfrid came to the United States from Haiti in 1991. Gamintz took a different route, moving to Canada in 1995 before ending up in Orlando, where she met Wilfrid and the two immediately hit it off. They've been together for "a long time," she said, and have been married for almost a year – living in Keizer with their kids.
"His cooking is what got me," Gamintz said with a laugh. "A man that has 10 fingers and works in a kitchen? It was amazing. He cooked me some wild rice with fish and I knew he was a keeper."
Gamintz said her husband is always inventing new recipes for the food truck and searches for ways to put a spin on traditional Haitian barbecue dishes.
The menu at G&W is changing constantly, but typically features smoked ribs, chicken, sausage, pork and all the fixings one could ever want on the side. A gooey mac and cheese is one of their featured sides along with homemade potato salad, Cole slaw and others.
The flavors are evident from the first bite. Whether one indulges in Wilfrid's "special sauce," which provides a significant and tangy kick, or goes the route of traditional barbecue sauce on the meat of one's choice, it's hard to go wrong. The meat itself has a smokiness that diners can smell and taste.
Wilfrid – a gruff but friendly presence with evident passion for his food – spends long hours before the truck's opening tending to his trusty smoker, where he cooks the meats available on the menu for that day. Gamintz – the friendly face of the operation with a memorable, contagious laugh – typically comes to help out at the truck when she gets off work, taking orders at the register and helping in the kitchen.
Gamintz said business has been slow in the early going, but she hopes she and Wilfrid become familiar faces to many in Newberg looking to try something new. Whether customers have experienced the flavors of the Caribbean before or they are hungry for a culinary adventure, Gamintz sees a greater value in the work her family is doing.
"That is the best way to bring people together is at the table," Gamintz said. "No matter where you're from, food is food and barbecue is barbecue. The Caribbean part is our style and our flavors, and the best part is seeing people experience that for the first time when they take a bite."
G&W is typically open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, but hours can vary based on the business' website. The business's phone number is 971-719-9812.
OSHA slates A Spanish-language conference for workers in Salem
SALEM – Oregon OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) will present its first Spanish-language conference to address workers and their needs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds.
Presenters will include workplace safety and health professionals, medical providers and government representatives, according to a release from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. Topics include "Asserting Their Rights to a Safe Workplace," "Protecting Their Health and Safety at Work and at Home" and "Protecting Against Wage Theft." Other topics include identifying and addressing common workplace hazards; safety and health in agriculture, construction, food processing, and logging and forest harvesting; and the role of the supervisor in workplace safety.
The event will also include exhibits, health screenings by a Virginia Garcia health center and lunch.
"This conference reflects our ongoing mission to improve outreach to the most vulnerable workers by offering an event entirely in the language of many such workers," said Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator.
Contributors to the event include the Oregon Columbia Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, SAIF Corp. and Oregon Business and Industry.
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