Dainty’s Jamaican Kitchen in Albany, NY a Go-To-Spot for that Home-Cooked Meal
by Howard Campbell
NEW YORK – It was custom in ‘old time Jamaica’ for grandmothers to pass on their skills to the grandchildren. Young ladies, especially, learned the art of crocheting and sewing, and cooking.
Dainty Bellanfantie graduated from her Granny Inez’ culinary ‘school’ with honors. Those lessons have served her well as proprietor of Dainty’s Jamaican Kitchen, located in Albany, New York.
The restaurant, which celebrated its second anniversary on March 6, is a go-to spot for Albany’s increasingly diverse populace. It is also frequented by Jamaican entertainers passing through the New York State capital.
Albany has several Jamaican eateries, but Bellanfantie credits her home-cooked touch for keeping Dainty’s Jamaican Kitchen competitive.
“My restaurant stands out for the traditional Jamaican flavors…I try to bring all that my Granny Inez taught me. She was the one who taught me all I know in the kitchen,” she said.
Granny Inez, her paternal grandmother, raised Bellanfantie in Spanish Town, Jamaica’s first capital. She showed her how to prepare meals that have become international favorites, including curried goat and chicken, jerked chicken and pork, stewed chicken, and stew peas.
Bellanfantie opened ‘Dainty’s’ while working as a registered nurse. Her passion for cooking inspired her to leave the health sector and start a restaurant even though she had no experience in the food industry.
“The main challenge I had was juggling both the nursing and the restaurant, so I had to give up one at that moment and that was very difficult because I loved both,” she said.
Members of Albany’s large Jamaican community are the core supporters of Bellanfantie’s surprise. Fellow Caribbean-Americans from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Haiti plus Americans from varying backgrounds, are also regular patrons.
Dainty Bellanfantie is known in Jamaica as an actress who appeared in a number of roots plays, so known for their bawdy dialogue.
She currently plays Flow in Tek Weh Yuhself, a comedy that opened March 10 at Hostos Community College in The Bronx.