Like Bob Marley, Chef Neville Forsythe is leaving a legacy here in Chattanooga. In place of music, Chef Neville used food to bring the heart of reggae to our community.
Chef Neville led Mrs. B’s Reggae Café as chef and owner, bringing the relaxed atmosphere and culinary experience of Jamaica to Broad Street. Some of Mrs. B’s most popular dishes included braised oxtails and curried goat.
In memory of Chef Neville, the Forsythe family invites you to an evening of fun and reflection to celebrate Chef Neville’s life. Hear live music from the bands Fresh Mind, 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer and a DJ playing Chef Neville’s favorite songs and Caribbean classics. Sip Chef Neville’s favorite cocktail featured at Mrs. B’s Reggae Café, The Voodoo Rhum Punch.
The celebration of Chef Neville’s life will take place Saturday, Feb. 1 at Barking Legs Theater at 7:30 p.m. You can register for the event here.
The celebration of Chef Neville’s life is also a fundraiser for the endowment being set up in his name. The Neville Osmond Forsythe, Sr. Scholarship will provide scholarships for culinary school entrants and members of the Boy Scouts. The $20 event fee will go into the endowment, which will be hosted by Service After Service, a nonprofit run by Chef Neville's daughter. If you’d like to donate, click here.
Before Chef Neville’s death, Chattanooga Trend sat down with he and his wife, Marilyn, to profile the restaurant. Here are some of his comments about Mrs. B’s:
Trend: What is it like serving Jamaican Food in Chattanooga?
Chef Neville: It’s a challenge. Hahaha. We don’t have a very big Caribbean population in Chattanooga.
A lot of what we do is geared to folks who like to travel or have been to the islands or want to go to the islands. Some people are just brand new and want to experience it. So our place is not packed all the time, but we have really supportive regulars.
Trend: What is your favorite dish?
Chef Neville: They’re all my favorite. What I like to eat depends on my mood, some days jerk chicken sounds fantastic and other days the oxtails or salt fish does.
Trend: How did attending the Culinary Institute impact your cooking style?
Chef Neville: Oh my goodness, I was made to cook. I learned the fundamentals at the Culinary Institute of America. The fundamentals gave me the skills to ‘Jamaicanize’ dishes.
It used to be called a fusion, but I don’t use that word. I ‘Jamaicanize’ dishes. I’ve taken a classic Chinese egg roll and turned it into a reggae roll.
It’s like music. In Jamaica we take Country/Western, add a reggae beat to it and you forget the song was originally country. I do the exact same thing with food.
Trend: What are some similarities between Chattanooga and Jamaica?
Chef Neville: Nothing. (Followed by laughter). Jamaica has a beautiful ocean breeze. People are fascinated with our music and food. The country has a little bit of mystery to it. People love Jamaican music, especially Bob Marley.
Chattanooga and Jamaica both have a slow pace of life to them.
Trend: What are three things you want Chattanoogans to know about Jamaica?
Chef Neville: The food is not that different. We have chicken, pork and fish. Our food has more seasoning and spices. People think all our food will tear your mouth out. But it’s mostly just flavor. Our food is very flavorful, not always spicy hot. We are not always using spicy peppers, it’s about flavor.
One of the main things is flavor. A lot of places and a lot of chefs forget to use salt. All you have to do to my food is get your knife and fork.
Chef Neville and Mrs. B's Reggae Cafe will be greatly missed by our community.