London’s ‘best’ Guyanese restaurant that started in a caravan 21 years ago where the food is so good the owner gets orders from Germany

It’s taken 21 years for Fayes Gomes to build up a loyal following for her Guyanese restaurant in South London, and she must be doing something right because people travel from China and Canada to eat her food. The owner of Kaieteur Kitchen in Elephant and Castle has served Guyanese Christmas dinners in footballers’ homes, catered boat parties for Baronesses, befriended the head of the NHS, cooked for actors in the West End, and been asked to cook and send food to Germany.

Speaking to Faye, she’s warm and filled with stories from the life she’s created for herself. Even before coming to the UK Faye had a successful business in Guyana, A South American country bordering Venezuela. Becoming emotional about leaving her life behind she hesitantly shares that it was love that brought her to this country.

She met her husband at a community party and he told her he fell in love with her after a single dance. Two months later they were married and she left everything behind to come to this country. She says: “Settling here [in this country] was hard, I wanted to go home but I had friends who encouraged me to stay.”

Faye started out humbly in her own kitchen at home in the late 90s after coming from Guyana. She says: “People started hearing about me and my food and they kept coming back.” By 2003, Faye’s home business had grown and so she bought a caravan from another Guyanese trader in the Elephant and Castle shopping centre.

Over the years her customers have followed her including to her new base in Castle Square after the shopping centre was closed as part of Southwark Council’s regeneration of the area. During her time as a trader in the caravan she befriended the homeless community offering them the food left behind each day after 8pm. Even today Faye offers food to local homeless people.

Talking about the dish she is known for, which is an Amerindian dish from Guyana called Pepper Pot which is served as a Christmas morning special in Guyana. She says: “The dish is usually cooked by those living on the outskirts of Guyana with wild meat, they would make a sauce from a ground vegetable called cassava which is spicy and flavoured and this is what they would eat. However, those who didn’t have access to wild meat would use beef and oxtail, pork, cows feet, pig trotters, tripe, every part of the cow and pig and add the cassava and that is what is called Pepper Pot.”

Faye’s profile received a huge boost when food writer Jonathan Nunn visited her caravan and documented how she prepared and made her Pepper Pot recipe. According to her, he’s also the one who forwarded her name to Virgin Atlantic when they wanted to feature local businesses that people coming to London could visit, through their in-flight magazine. She says: “Jonathan advertised it so much, everyone wanted to know what Pepper Pot was.”

Faye’s love for cooking comes through when she’s asked why she is running a restaurant. Shining with excitement, she says: “I was born and grew up with my grandparents who had a baking shop baking break and cakes. We were a very big family and we all went into catering and food. I went to school and studied food and nutrition in Guyana and did really well. Here, I continued what I learnt from my entire family and from studying, that’s what I carried on here with my business.”

Talking about her customer base she says: “The people that have kept coming back, come back for many reasons. I think it’s my approach towards them, sometimes they’ll come back because when they are here and have been short of money and I tell them ‘it’s not all about money you are always here, don’t worry’.”

During her caravan days, she befriended a homeless man Michael who she stayed friends with and helped for years. Becoming Michael’s friend meant she trusted him enough to go to the bank for her and do other small jobs. A few years ago, she got a call in the morning which she didn’t answer. The next day she was told Michael had died. She was contacted by his family who knew all about her helping Michael. She says: “It was Friday, one of my busiest days, but I made all the food, closed the caravan and I got a taxi and went to his funeral.”

Faye believes her food is so popular because of the passion with which she cooks it. She said: “I cook my food with lots of love, I don’t make fun when I’m cooking my food and I take time when preparing the food.” She adds: “I have customers from all over, London, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Canada, New York, China. I’ve had customers order food from Germany which I have sent to them.”

Kaieteur Kitchen was labelled the “best Guyanese Restaurant in London” in one glowing TripAdvisor review and for Faye, it’s a joy to see people so enthused about her food. She said: “This here, has been the best thing that has ever happened to me, this has been my joy and my all, this has been like Heaven in this place.”

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