Meet Chef Kelston Bascom of Bascom Catering, featured chef for our Sixth Annual Public Art Potluck! Tickets to the Potluck are available here. We’re really excited to be working with Kelston this year! He’s a wonderful chef, and a crucial part of The Point CDC, where he runs The Point’s cafe and also teaches culinary education classes as part of the Blank Plate program. We can’t wait to see what he cooks up for us at the Potluck! We asked Kelston a few questions about his cuisine and what he’s been up to. Here’s what he had to say:
How would you describe your cuisine in three words?
Good mother’s cooking.
When and how did you first discover your love for food and culinary arts?
My sister and my mother used to always cook dinner. They came from the Caribbean—Trinidad & Tobago—so we always had a big Sunday dinner. I always helped them with prep—I was too young and too short to see over the stovetop, but I was always around when my sister and mother were preparing food and I learned from them. I started cooking on my own when I was 11. My Mom said I had to start making my breakfast then, because she was too busy. Later I went to culinary school. I didn’t actually get my culinary degree ’til 2002.
In addition to working as a chef, catering, and running the cafe at The Point CDC, you also teach culinary arts to teens in The Point’s Blank Plate program. Can you tell us more about the program?
Yes, we do the Blank Plate program from April to June, for kids ages 13 to 17. We teach them basic culinary arts, introduction to food and cooking, knife drills, and stuff like that. We‘ve done it for four years so far—it’s going on its fifth year now. What I enjoy most is seeing the enthusiasm on kids’ faces, to see them learn something new—a new vegetable, new technique, something basic about cooking—and help them pick up new skills as they become adults.
Tell us about Bascom Catering and Events, what sort of events do you do and what’s next for the company?
We started Bascom Catering in 2008. We cater healthy great food at a low price. We did Tribeca Film Festival seven years in a row, and also serve Congressmen’s offices, Hyde Charter School, Bronx Charter School, events at The Point CDC, weddings, bat mitzvahs, funerals, and more. If you don’t have a big budget, we’ll work with you. We try to offer a great product and a great service at a good price. We’re working on a lot right now. We’re looking into opening a new space in Hunts Point. I’m pushing for a culinary school that can work with about 50 kids a day, so we can offer programs for more kids in this community. A lot of kids are enthusiastic about cooking and want to do this, but they don’t necessarily have the finances to go to a culinary school downtown. So we’re trying to launch a program for kids in the community, possibly offering them stipends to help make it accessible. We’re also trying to open a restaurant in Harlem next summer. Stay tuned!
What’s your neighborhood, and what do you love most about it? And, what do you love most about Hunts Point?
I’m from Richmond Hill, Queens, which is a neighborhood with a vast variety of cultures, especially Latino and East Indian. The great thing about Hunts Point is that the community, culture, and the art programs out here are amazing. People here are all artists, they all love artists, and being a chef, it goes without saying that you’re an artist. People here have really accepted me—they’ve embraced me like I’m from Hunts Point, welcomed me as an artist as part of the community. Like I said, everyone here is an artist, or really appreciates art—it’s a really creative community, and extremely welcoming.
What excites you most about working with The LP for our 6th Annual Public Art Potluck?
I’m looking forward to working with The LP! You offer a great service in the community, and I look forward to giving you guys some of my creations, and making everyone smile. I’m really honored to work together. You give so much back to the community and I want to give part of what I do for community also.
What’s your favorite film, book, or song about NYC?
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, “New York, New York.” “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!”