Chef Lacey Williams Brings Elevated Jamaican Cuisine To Martha’s Vineyard
NyamnzMV's founder is bringing culinary delights to Martha's Vineyard.
Lacey Williams, founder of NyamnzMV, is an up-and-coming chef in Martha’s Vineyard.
Chef Lacey provides a rich dining experience for one community and builds and shares resources with the other.
A self-proclaimed food connoisseur, the talented culinary creator stated that the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown allowed her to indulge in that love. Sitting at home binge-watching her favorite cooking shows, the vicenarian thought about becoming a food critic but pondered if she had the chops because she was relatively unknown. “How do I let people know that my opinion about food is valuable if they haven’t tasted my food?”
That question and the pandemic were the seeds the Jamaican-born chef needed to jump-start her dream. She spoke to BLACK ENTERPRISE about how she began as a one-woman operation and has steadily scaled up with the help of her community over the years.
During the shutdown in 2020, the culinary artist shared that the need for delivery options sparked the idea of a personal chef experience. The hospital, staffed with over 200 people, no longer had access to a cafeteria during the pandemic.
“I wanted to be able to offer hope, a little bit of delicious joy that looks beautiful. I want you to feel like you are in a restaurant when you open that takeout box.”
Starting with individual deliveries, Chef Lacey noticed the excitement for her dishes and soon expanded to catering private events. Her intimate dining experiences – complete with serving staff – kept her booked during the Martha’s Vineyard busy season. When asked how she initially made the leap with little capital and big dreams, she boasted that there is another side of the island that many don’t see.
Though wealth, luxury and affluence are abundant, the insular nature of the island breeds community among those who do not live in the lap of luxury. It is within this community that Chef Lacey finds helping hands and support for her venture. The median cost of an owner-occupied home on the island is $857,900, according to Census Reporter. The median income in Martha’s Vineyard is $77,451. This large gap in income and ownership highlights the tale of two vineyards.
“We are a really tight-knit community. There are Facebook pages for everything.”
It was a Facebook post that the chef attributed to the elevation of her business.
“There was a Facebook post on a private page that said, ‘I just had the greatest meal from the most amazing chef. She had the most amazing story about her culture and boom. It got 200 comments. People were on my website waiting to schedule.”
The proud Jamaican also imparts her patria’s rich history of cooking techniques and ingredients to give her customers an experience that will leave them enriched and satisfied on all levels. The name Nyamnz is rooted in Jamaican culture. She radiated joy speaking about the roots of Jerked meat in its original iteration.
Nyamnz is Jamaican Patois “meaning to eat,” Nyamnz is that gathering bringing everybody together to eat.”
Martha’s Vineyard busiest time, according to Chef Lacey, is during July to October. While she stays booked and busy during that time, the 20-something chef’s goal is to level up her brand and business even more. Chef Lacey revealed she would like to craft a private traveling dining experience.
Offering private dining, cooking classes, or paint-n-sips, she’ll be bringing her delicious food and culture to a city near you.
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