Community Spotlight – Cornelia Wilson

First tell us – tell me a little bit about yourself – where you’re from and where do you live?

I was born in Jamaica, and was raised with a strong and proud Jamaican culture. My family moved to the States in 1993 with me, my older sister, my brother Cornelius, and my younger sister. They set up roots in Summit, NJ and as a family have really been here ever since. My brother Cornelius owns Summit Health and Body Works and my younger sister currently resides in Boston and is a senior account manager at Wayfair, but she’s never away for too long.  I went to Wittenberg University in Ohio, then came back to New Jersey and eventually started a career in facility management, working for Dun & Bradstreet. I was managing a number of buildings for them in New Jersey and Manhattan, I played a lead role overseeing their recent Manhattan expansion and then COVID happened. The buildings I managed went empty and so did a lot of the jobs that they supported. I’m not one to wait around, so I tapped into my passion for food and providing people with nourishment. The kitchen was always our family’s hub and food was an experience. Growing up and having a house and family of my own, I have always cooked for neighbors and friends and the idea had come up before. I look at it as COVID gave me the chance to finally say yes to it.

What do you draw your cooking inspiration from? Family/relatives or just the type of food you have a passion for? 

For me they are one in the same. I come from a family of passionate people, and food has always been a common passion among us. For example, my mom was an accountant and worked many years looking at balance sheets and tax reports, until she decided to follow her passion and become a chef.  She worked for former NFL star and NJ native Tony Siragusa and as a result, she was often introduced to other NFL players and their families and would go on to work for many of them. Back in Jamaica, my Rastafarian Uncle Luddy and Aunt Vena, both dedicated vegans, own and operate our family restaurant. In high school I would spend my summers with them in Jamaican, and I was able to learn by watching them which definitely helped me find my own passion for cooking, but specifically cooking authentic and organic Jamaican Cuisine.

 

What is your favorite dish to cook and what is your most popular? 

My favorite dish is jerk chicken. It’s just such a classic Jamaican dish, and fun to put your own touch and trist on. My most popular dish tends to be oxtail. 

Do you aim to one day open a restaurant or is this something you do for fun or as a hobby?

The idea of opening a restaurant is not the main goal at the moment. To be honest, this was more of a situation akin to turning lemons into lemonade. In times of great challenge lie great opportunity, and I believe the pandemic might be an example of that for me, so I am excited to see where it takes me. For those same reasons though, this was not something I planned for months/years. This is not step one of my nine step business plan. Right now, my goal is to provide my customers with delicious, authentic Jamaican food. In doing that, I hope to help free up time for them and provide them with a cultural experience around the dinner table. 

 

Where can people find more information on your menu or services? i.e Takeout, delivery or pre-packaged meals?

At the moment, I am marketing exclusively on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook or email me at wilson.cornelia@gmail.com for my weekly menu and more information. I check my messages frequently.

I’m in the process of creating my website, so that will be coming soon. 

I offer it all – special occasions, meal planning, individual and family meals. I have lunch and dinner options, and if you’re local then I deliver. Meals can also be tailored.

Trick question – what is your favorite genre of music and who is your favorite artist of all time in that genre?

You’d think I’d say Reggae but let’s go with Rock. Either Nine Inch Nails or System of the Down!