With a noticeable seafood slant to its indulgently tantalizing menu, Flava Fingaz has been making waves since its official opening in Jamaica’s resort town of Ocho Rios this January. A visit to its Main Street location is always a treat from start to finish. Fancy a crab, shrimp or lobster boil? How about a blend of all three? No one does a seafood boil quite like Flava Fingaz.
The business is a dream fulfilled by 24-year-old restaurateur Alexia Wittick.
“I offer meals that are not offered in Ocho Rios or St Ann. When I started recreating seafood or shrimp boil no one in St Ann, that I am aware of, had that on their menu,” she tells LetsTravelCaribbean.com. “Currently, the majority of the meals I offer can only be found at Flava Fingaz. I ensure that Flava Fingaz is a trendsetter. I strategically do this to have persons wanting to come back. I do not offer meals that can be purchased every few steps you take in Ocho Rios.”
Wittick has long had a passion for food, and she remembers cooking as a child. She fit right in with the rest of the family.
“Growing up I was always in the kitchen either watching or just asking questions as I was very curious. The first time I fried my first piece of chicken I had to stand on a stool; I was that short. But I wanted to try. My sitter at the time taught me how to season the chicken and how to place it in the oil,” she recalls.
“Also my dad and mom would always be in the kitchen… cooking or baking and with them… I would be able to mix something or taste something. My granddad and grandmother were also chefs,” she says.
She found her way back to food years later, switching from studying Business Administration to Food Service Management. She majored in Culinary Arts Management.
When she graduated from the University of Technology in 2020, Wittick knew she did not want to work in a local hotel, a popular choice for many with her major”. In years gone by she had participated in the summer work and travel programme, a good source of income and experience. She decided to embark on the new and unfamiliar path of being an entrepreneur, competing with business giants and financing her business with money she had previously earned abroad.
“I said to myself, ‘Alexia it’s time for plan B because plan A didn’t work’. I drew for my long-term goals list and I saw, ‘Open a restaurant’ and I wondered what type of meals I would make. I wanted to be different. I went to bed, woke up, and it all came to me,” she says.
Then a late-night brainstorming session with her brother led to the name ‘Flava Fingaz’ which Wittick explains is an easy way to get the message across that their unique flavours “make every meal a memorable one”. This is reinforced by their fresh-looking logo made up of the words FF with the tagline ‘Delight in every bite’. It’s highly visible on the Flava Fingaz Instagram page whose followers are at 7,000 and growing. The photos on IG showcase the care taken in the presentation of the dishes created.
“Food presentation is how I bring out my personality into a dish. I eat and enjoy food with my eyes; therefore food presentation for me is very important. The visual aesthetics of food is the first aspect that gives customers an idea of what their entire food experience is going to be like in terms of taste and feel. So I ensure that my meals are always well presented,” Wittick says.
She believes Flava Fingaz is already standing out from the rest of the culinary crowd as her business caters to all age groups, especially vegetarians and seafood lovers. She is grateful for the support received from family and friends who, she says, continue to motivate her.
“[My] hidden talent that came out a few years ago… was noticed by a few persons including my mother, my brother, my dad, and lecturers. [That] made me super confident and motivated me in doing what I love best. I am also motivated by the comments I receive after I have prepared a meal,” she says.
She initially began offering meals out of her house but after demand grew she realised she needed to make it a viable enterprise. Being the head chef at Flava Fingaz, she enjoys satisfying customers’ gastronomic desires and having them come back for more.
The young entrepreneur, who spends most of her time building her business, says she has “lost her social life” but she’s ok with that. She remains focused on her goals, determined to change the perception of those who underestimate her.
“Being so young in the industry, [some] older persons [may] look down on me and my business, but that challenge has not impacted me or Flava Fingaz negatively. The love I have for the food itself motivates me the most, in turn I motivate myself a lot,” she says.
The next item on her list of things to do is adding, once COVID-19 safety protocols allow, more dining space where her customers can sit and enjoy their meals. But for loyal clients such as Nikala Robinson, the tasty meals being offered more than make up for the lack of greater dine-in options.
“The customer service is great, she is very consistent, she is also very flexible in terms of her menu and so you always know what you’re getting whenever you’re buying there… It’s not one of those grand establishments that is very elaborate, but she is very clean, the staff is very friendly and if there are delays the staff will always update us,” Robinson tells LetsTravelCaribean.com.
Jhenel Cohen is another satisfied customer.
“The last time I went I had basmati rice and curry shrimp; they have a good customer so I was treated good… It was very presentable,” she says.
In addition to its very popular seafood boil, the Flava Fingaz menu also includes:
- Seafood soup
- BBQ mozzarella cheese fries
- Wings (sweet chilli or BBQ) and waffles
- Firecracker shrimp fries
- Flavarito with tortilla chips
- Their spin on old favourites such as the Philly cheesesteak, BBQ wings, three cheese pasta, cheesy fries and more.
- They also offer yummy smoothies made from all natural ingredients.
Shop 13, Santa Maria Plaza, Ocho Rios
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am – 6pm
Text: DONICKA ROBINSON
Photos: Courtesy of Flava Fingaz