Last week I ventured to the heart of the historical district in Hyde Park and was virtually transported to the islands of the Caribbean. That’s right, I dined at the upscale Caribbean-fusion inspired eatery – 14 Parish. 14 Parish has an excellent Chicago Restaurant Week menu offering!
Choose Chicago Restaurant Week runs now through April 4th, for more details click HERE.
14 Parish is black-owned and woman-owned. Owner, Racquel Fields, became a restaurateur in 2016 when she opened 14 Parish in the South Loop neighborhood. In 2020 she relocated the restaurant to the Hyde Park neighborhood after she was unable to renew her lease at the South Loop location.
Hyde Park was a good business move! The restaurant continues to flourish during the pandemic and the every changing mandated regulations. Racquel is a community driven leader and that shows through in her restaurant. Her mission is to support the next generation via employment.
Fields is a first time restaurant owner. She wanted the restaurant to provide the finest rhum experience in the city. That was accomplished by opening a rhum bar with over a 100 different types of rum. I am a whisky lover and Racquel was able to introduce me to a rum that resembles the whisky flavor profile. (Loved the Ron Cihuatan – Gran Reserva. Rum aged in bourbon casks). The restaurant menu has Caribbean offerings specially prepared by chefs with an eye on taste and presentation.
In honor of Women’s History Month I had a chance to interview Racquel. Read on below for our one on one interview.
Tavi J. One on One Interview with Racquel Fields, Owner of 14 Parish
14 Parish opened in 2016 in the South Loop neighborhood. You relocated to Hyde Park in 2020. What makes the new location special and why did you choose Hyde Park?
I chose Hyde Park because I like to call myself a snot nosed kid from the South Side of Chicago. I grew up in South Shore. I went to Kenwood Highschool in Hyde Park and Hyde Park just felt like a community. My best friend is a business owner and was moving to Hyde Park and suggested I move there too. I saw this place and I fell in love with the community, neighborhood, and the people. I love it here!
What ties do you have to the Caribbean? Why was Caribbean-fusion your cuisine of choice for your first restaurant?
When I first started the business I had a partner who was from Jamaica. I always had a love for the Caribbean and a passion for food. So we started the journey together. Unfortunately in 2019 he lost one of his sons to gun violence. With the restaurant industry being a very difficult business he wanted to take a step back from the restaurant and make his family his primary focus.
March is Women’s History Month. As a black female owner and restaurateur what advice would you give to other women looking to enter the entrepreneurship field?
Do it! To be honest this has been the most difficult yet rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s hard, but I always say grit will get you through anything. To be an entrepreneur you gotta be a little bit insane. You’re looking at something that looks completely bleak, but you gotta think in your head I CAN DO THIS! You gotta keep thinking it doesn’t matter how dark it looks. I’m going to get to the light. I recommend to anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur to do it, but recognize it’s not for everyone. If you later decide you don’t want to do it, that’s okay.
14 Parish is a rhum bar with over a 100 different types of rums offered. Why do you delight in rum and can you tell us a few tips that go into play when pairing Rum with food?
I’ll try to summarize it cause I love it and want to talk about it all day. So what I would say is rum is the first American spirit. What makes it so special and why I chose it is the history behind it. As an African American rum really tells our history after the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Enslaved Africans were purchased, with rum, from African chiefs and shipped to the Caribbean to harvest sugar cane, which was turned to molasses and then rum, then shipped back to Africa to purchase more slaves. Rum tells an often ignored picture of African-American history. I like to educate on this.
When it comes to rum and food pairings I can pretty much help you find a beverage no matter what spirits you like. There’s a rum to match tequila, whisky, vodka, or gin flavor profiles.
Racquel definitely gave me a 101 Rum lesson. I experienced my lesson through the delicious cocktail “Parish Punch.” I love all the ingredients are listed on the menu so you can make your own version at home.
Last question, you’re very driven in your mission to support the community and the next generation. What attribute as a professional do you think needs to be driven into our youth in order to succeed?
Oh wow I love this question! I spent 15 years in youth development before I started the restaurant. The thing I want young people to understand is their own attributes, so they learn how to sell themselves. What I feel like young people struggle with is how to speak to what makes them special and unique. Women struggle with this as well. As a business owner I want to coach the youth. When you see something special in them exploit that attribute and tell them your exploiting it because they’re good at it.
Thanks so much to Racquel for the hospitality and heart warming interview. Make sure you head to 14 Parish to see why it’s the hottest Caribbean-fusion inspired eatery in Hyde Park.
14 Parish Chicago
1644 E 53rd Street, Chicago
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