11-Year-Old Boy Opens Vegan Caribbean Pop-Up Restaurant After Teaching Himself To Cook
By Kelsey Marie
Omari McQueen is an 11-year-old entrepreneur who just opened his first restaurant. McQueen learned to cook at the age of 7 after his mother, Leah, became ill with paralyzing migraines and his dad had to work more to support their family.
Although he was raised eating meat, watching videos online piqued his interest in becoming vegan. He then learned to cook by watching YouTube videos. Omari has dyslexia so he uses his sense of smell to help him identify the spices and seasonings he needs for his recipes.
Omari’s pop-up restaurant is located in Boxpark, Croyden in London and serves Caribbean food using only plant-based ingredients.
He contacted the CEO of Boxpark about his idea and impressed him so much that he was offered a space rent-fee for a week.
“I feel good about opening up the restaurant. I am really excited about it I’ve always wanted to become a chef. I’m hoping lots of people will come along and find it tasty”, says Omari to Metro UK.
“I want to open a [permanent] restaurant in Boxpark. I think it will be really fun, and so many people will come to my restaurant”, says Omari.
His mother Leah says the whole family, including cousins and grandmothers, will be assisting Omari but he will be giving them strict instructions as the head chef.
Leah tells Metro UK: “He’s [Omari] serious about his business but he’s still an 11-year-old boy who likes to play computer games and run around playing football. He’s not thinking about who is coming or how many followers he will get — he’s not thinking about that. He just wants to see people enjoying his food.”
Omari’s vegan dips have won awards which are helping to fund his Dipalicious pop-up restaurant.
Leah and her husband Jermaine McQueen have started a crowdfunding page to get Omari’s restaurant running.
“It’s definitely not easy. We’re not a rich family doing this for our son. He’s come from a background of a working-class family with six children”, says Leah.
You can support Omari’s dream of opening a permanent restaurant by donating here.
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie