Above Antoinette’s Food Cache is a sign that proclaims it to be an “International Slow Food Restaurant”.
In a culture that often idolizes speed, such a proclamation seems a little out of place. But maybe there is more value in slowness than we often give it credit for.
Antoinette Oliphant would certainly agree. She is the owner/operator of Antoinette’s Food Cache.
Oliphant was born on the small Caribbean island of Tobago, then grew up in Toronto and slowly made her way northwest until she found herself in the Yukon at the end of 2005.
Originally, Oliphant set up base in Dawson City, working for the Aurora Inn. “The reception was amazing,” Oliphant says about the way she was welcomed into the community. She adds, “Dawson is a place where I can be myself, be everything that I am.”
But the process of self-realization that she began in Dawson City did not end in someone else’s kitchen.
Oliphant explains, “I’m a good employee, but I’m a better boss.” She wanted to run her own restaurant and she had found the perfect location: a quaint blue house on Third Avenue.
“I told the owners, I love your house but I have no money. They said, ‘Have the house, pay us when you can.'”
Oliphant still feels a great debt of gratitude toward Nancy and Stuart Schmidt, the former owners of the house.
Antoinette’s became a success in Dawson. “It was fun, people liked the fact that it was something different.” Oliphant’s specialty is international cuisine. “Caribbean, East Indian, Thai, French,” she elaborates.
Something different indeed.
After the success of Dawson City, she turned her gaze south to the territorial capital and decided to start a restaurant in Whitehorse. Oliphant certainly took her time arriving here, but then again she takes her time doing a lot of things and she wouldn’t change a bit of it.
“I’ve always done things slowly and I’ve come to realize that that’s OK,” she says defiantly.
As a food lover, the increasing pace of life is especially galling for Oliphant.
Whereas many of us think of food as something to be devoured quickly, in-between activities, Oliphant thinks that eating food is an important activity in its own right and that it deserves proper respect.
Oliphant says people run around too much. “It’s rush, rush, rush.
“At Antoinette’s, you sit down and stay for a while. It’s a chance for fellowship with the people you are with.”
Not only does the slowness allow for more fellowship, it also allows for more authenticity. “Its not fast [because] everything is made from scratch,” she says.
Oliphant admits that her appreciation for the slower aspects of life might stem from her “laid-back” Caribbean roots and she is certain that this is where her love of food comes from.
“I remember my grandmother baking in these big outdoor clay ovens. I would just follow her around.”
The Yukon is a long ways from Tobago, but by bringing her grandmother’s passion with her when she came to the North, Antoinette Oliphant is slowly closing that gap.