Dale Carty, the Chef-Patron of Tasty’s, a renowned culinary institution on the picturesque island of Anguilla, has been making waves in the Caribbean gastronomic scene since its establishment in 1999. In an exclusive conversation with WAWW, Chef Dale Carty shares his perspective on Anguilla cuisine, drawing inspiration from African and French influences, and names a dish infused with the intriguing moniker, “local viagra,”which promises to enhance your Anguillian holiday experience.
Who is Mr. Tasty?
Dale Carly is the heart and soul behind Tasty’s, an iconic spot in Anguilla that’s become a hit with both locals and tourists. His rise to fame is a story of true grit and culinary passion, having started from the bottom—learning to cook from his mother and grandmother and initially working as a dishwasher in a hotel kitchen.Since opening its doors in 1999, Tasty’s has been a go-to spot in the South Hill district of Anguilla. It’s famous for its breakfast menu, a tasty mix of American, Caribbean, and French dishes.
It’s not just a place to eat; it’s become part of the daily routine for many tourists and locals.Starting out with just four tables, Tasty’s quickly grew into a local favourite. Dale reminisces, “My mother was my first employee. She made the dumplings, and we served dishes that were rooted in African heritage, like the grandmaster chicken, a recipe from my grandmother.”Dale’s love for cooking started early, inspired by his grandmother’s kitchen.
Starting at sixteen, he was washing dishes in a hotel kitchen but always had his eyes set on cooking. His determination paid off, and he soon found himself working in the kitchen. By eighteen, he was in France, learning to blend French and Caribbean cooking styles.Facing a ceiling in traditional hotel kitchens and being told he’d never be an executive chef because they preferred French chefs, Dale decided to start his own thing—and thus, Tasty’s was born.
So why the name Tasty’s? Dale explains with a laugh, “I wanted a name that reflected the quality of our food. And yes, when asked if I’m Mr. Tasty, I respond with a bit of humour.”
Tasty's menu: what food should you order in Anguilla?
At Tasty’s, the menu is a vibrant homage to Anguilla’s rich seas and culinary traditions. Dale, the culinary wizard behind the scenes, puts it best: “We serve a variety of seafood, from snapper to lobster and crayfish, prepared with a blend of local and French techniques.” The menu is a hit, with dishes like grilled snapper, Mai Mai creole style, and a standout seafood pasta that’s become the talk of the town for both locals and tourists.
But it’s not just about seafood. Tasty’s is also known for its curried goat, a nod to the island’s abundant goat population. “With all the goats running around the island, this definitely helps with the demand,” Dale notes, showcasing a blend of practicality and culinary flair.Saltfish holds a special place at Tasty’s and in Anguilla’s history. As Dale explains, “Before refrigeration, saltfish was a necessity. Now, it’s a cherished part of our culinary heritage.
“Delving deeper into the menu, Dale’s personal touch and the island’s history are evident. “Many of our dishes, if traced back, have their origins in Africa. This is evident in the way we prepare our fish and use spices,” he reflects. This deep-rooted connection isn’t just about food; it’s about culture and history, linking Anguilla’s present with its past.But the connection doesn’t stop there. He draws an intriguing parallel between natural phenomena and history: “The paths of the hurricanes starting off the coast of Africa and reaching the Caribbean eerily mirror the slave trade routes.”
This observation deepens the meaning behind the menu, linking it not only to the island’s culinary history but also to its broader historical context. This link is evident in the similarity of dishes found both in Anguilla and in those parts of Africa. “The banana and the grapefruit were bought on the voyage from Africa; a lot of trade ended up in Anguilla from that same voyage.”These culinary traditions, born out of the African diaspora, have travelled across the Atlantic, mirroring the journey of the enslaved people.
Interestingly, Dale notes that this historical path also coincides with the trajectory of hurricanes originating off the African coast and moving towards the Caribbean and the U.S. This ‘coincidence’ has led Dale and other Anguillians to speculate about a deeper, perhaps spiritual connection between these natural phenomena and the historical routes of the slave trade, underscoring the profound and lasting impact of this period on both the culture and the natural environment of regions like Anguilla.
Food for the soul...and more at Tasty's
Dale’s unique fusion style at Tasty’s has been creating a stir among food lovers. It’s become a shared view among them: “You just have to try it.” Watching his patrons enjoy their first bite is a source of joy for Dale. “That first taste says it all. Seeing people relish our dishes is incredibly rewarding,” he comments.
The menu at Tasty’s is a treasure trove of delights—think hearty fish soup, sumptuous seafood pasta, the indulgent Tasty’s Grand Marnier French Toast, or the iconic Tasty’s Eggs Benedict. But there’s one dish that might tantalise more than just your taste buds. Their conch ceviche is rumoured to have aphrodisiac properties, thanks to the local seamoss, a type of nutritious sea algae.
“Seamoss is highly popular here in Anguilla. We even have a local drink made from it, playfully dubbed ‘the local viagra’ for its reputed health benefits,” Dale explains.When guests learn about the reputed effects of the conch ceviche, it often sparks playful banter. Dale shares, “Our waiters might mention its aphrodisiac qualities, and it’s not unusual to hear a wife jokingly suggest her husband should have a large serving.” On the culinary side, Dale adds, “We source our conch directly from the sea. It’s incredibly versatile, great for both stews and ceviche.”
Over the years, Tasty’s has become a go-to place for both locals and visitors looking to experience the essence of the island’s cuisine. Dale believes in the simple yet powerful idea that “food brings happiness, and at Tasty’s, we serve happiness on a plate.” This approach has transformed Tasty’s from a humble eatery into a vital part of Anguilla’s cultural and culinary identity.
By Elena Leo and Melody Cleland.