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Creatives in the kitchen

NEW GEN: Craig and Shaun McAnuff

WE WANT to modernise Caribbean food for the next generation, moving it forward, changing it up and generating new recipes for the youth.”

Those were the words of Shaun and Craig McAnuff, the two twenty-something south Londoners behind online sensation Original Flava. The brotherly duo are known for their quick and easy videos showing you how to master classic favourite Caribbean dishes; from saltfish fritters to mac and cheese, which skyrocketed them to online success after their first video was released in April 2016.

“Timing really is key,” says Shaun. “At the beginning of 2016, we decided we wanted to release our first video around Easter time, because as you know, that’s the time for the hard dough bread and fish and bun and cheese,” continues Craig. “So we did a bun and cheese video and it just went crazy. We got 30,000 views soon after we uploaded that video and we did not expect that at all.”

It seems that time has been on their side since the inception of Original Flava, which has now amassed over 180,000 likes on their Facebook page. For Craig, a self employed designer and Shaun who works full time, the twosome maintain their online success and their busy schedules by organising their time, so that they can continue to cook these tasty recipes that are reminiscent of their childhood.

“We’ve always been around cooking since we were young,” recalls Shaun. “Our mother and grandma were always cooking in the kitchen and we really took to it and grew up in that culture.

“Since we learnt how to cook from our older family members, it just made sense to bring it together and show people how to make Caribbean food easily,” says Craig. “Also, there’s a lot of connection that comes to our page and people feel nostalgic when they see our recipes.”

This shared nostalgia is what connects the siblings to their legion of followers, as they explore their favourite recipes and connect with fans of the Original Flava brand. “For me carrot juice is the one thing that brings back memories,” says Craig. “My aunty June always used to make carrot juice and whenever I taste it, it reminds me of her.”

Craig and Shaun’s favourite dishes are a colourful variety of Caribbean food and beverages; from curry goat and escovitch fish to sorrel and their signature rum punch. For Caribbean foodies everywhere, their indulgent how-to videos are a treat to watch, and the duo feel honoured to receive constant praise for their modern approach to making Caribbean dishes.

“I made a dish called plantain and prawns recently, and people loved it,” claims Shaun. “And that’s what it’s all about for us, blending the old with the new to creative innovative recipes for the younger generation. I’m a creative in the kitchen so I like to generate new recipes.”

While their creative and often tasty treats are mouthwateringly good, Craig and Shaun are keen to incorporate healthier recipes into the mix, and share their work- out regime to help keep fit and trim - even when indulging on those banana fritters and ice cream.

“Food and fitness really are intertwined, because you want to work off the food that you’re eating,” states Craig. “So for us, we focus on staying on top of our fitness and not being too indulgent. We would love to do some workout tips for people, and in- corporate some healthier Caribbean recipes,” adds Shaun.

The boys’ fitness regime includes working out 3 times a week at the gym, and they do enjoy the occasional football game too. “We’re big football fans, so that’s another passion of ours besides cooking,” mentions Shaun.

With a healthier outlook for 2017, the boys are also focused on branching out into other creative endeavours from publishing a cookbook in the spring, releasing their own products, and maybe following the footsteps of the infamous Chicken Connoisseur and start to review restaurants - Caribbean restaurants to be exact.

“We’d like to review Caribbean restaurants around London, collaborate with other food related companies that can fuse Caribbean food to make other things” says Shaun. “We’re all about fusing Caribbean food with different cultures, to make new innovative dishes and we want to really explore that in 2017.

“There’s no other platform where young black men are teaching you how to cook, so we just want to help and show you some new ways of cooking your favourite dishes.”

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