Carlton Men Can Cook!
Where do I start and how do I describe the Carlton Club in Barbados?
Many Years ago there was a man, a very good man, a man with a vision many years before his time, a man who believed in young people, especially the boys. This man’s name was Reynold Hutchinson. He and his family lived at the now demolished Carlton Great House in Black Rock.
As houses did, in the days of yore, it had a huge front lawn and Reynold would encourage all youngsters from the area to come and play sports on his grass. He believed that kids and young men who were involved in sports kept out of trouble.
So the front lawn was a cricket ground, a football ground, and a lawn tennis court depending on the season. I have met many an older man, who tell lovely fond stories of growing up and living in Deacons Farm, Brighton, Carlton and neighboring areas that spent many an afternoon playing on the front lawns at Carlton.
Reynold’s dream was to form a sports club and Carlton had an area of good grounds below the house. Through hard work and determination, Reynold and his young friends got the land cleared and built a modest clubhouse and invited members to join. This Carlton Club officially opened on April 1st, 1940, seventy-four years ago.
It was initially a club for “lower-middle-class whites and near whites” as these persons were not allowed to join the more prestigious older clubs like Pickwick and Wanderer’s sporting clubs.
By the 1960’s everyone of any race or standing who wanted to join Carlton were permitted to do so. Long before the rest of the sports clubs of the times.
Many great cricketers were born at Carlton club, notably Desmond Haynes who, the Desmond Haynes Oval (the cricket ground at Carlton) is named after. Desmond was the president at Carlton in 2000, and there were many others famous in one way or another for cricket, like Tony Cozier (the notable cricket commentator) and Corey Holder.
Uncle Ren, as he was fondly known, remained a staunch member of the club for over 50 years until he passed away. His funeral was one of the largest I have ever attended as he seemed to have touched many peoples lives, paying club fees for those that couldn’t afford…buying cricket gear for the ones that didn’t have…encouraging those that were fatherless…believing that these young men could do whatever they dreamed and he often helped those dreams to come true.
Uncle Ren did all his good works quietly and without fanfare. Carlton went on to play not only cricket and football but tennis, volleyball, netball, and hockey.
On Saturday, April 5th, 2014 I attended a fundraising event, “Can Carlton Men Cook?” at the club. Uncle Ren would have been proud to see that his dream is still very much alive and kicking. His youngest son, Spencer Hutchinson, is now the President of the Club. He proudly stood at the podium and welcomed all guests. He spoke highly of his dad and promised that once he had breath in his body, he would keep his dad’s dream, Carlton Club, alive.
I sat there among all the festivities, the music, the food and I was overwhelmingly glad to be a Bajan. On this small island, which in the realms of the world is a very small community, we Barbadians always put on our “dan dans” (pretty clothes) and come out and support each other and each other’s clubs, Charities, Schools, Organizations…whatever.
I come out to your event, and in return, you will come out and support mine in the future.
Ordinary people help support all kinds of extraordinary things on this island we call home. Our community spirit is still very much alive and may it continue for many years to come. This pipe dream of an ordinary man, seventy-four years ago, turned into a successful endeavor that is still well supported this many years later.
The Club members did the club proudly. The surroundings were very festive with lovely lit table centerpieces, and the grounds were in impeccable shape. All the lights were dancing gaily in the trees. We were entertained by the delightful tunes of the steel band before the deejays took over. The guests were delighted when Bajan favorites like Young Blood and Smokey Burke passed through and ranked up the party.
Now, if you noticed, this adventure is called “Carlton Men Can Cook.” What does that mean? Well, all the men of Carlton had to make a meat dish “supposedly” by themselves, while the rest of the meal is cooked by Mark Gaskin from Lee’s Bistro.
Every guest is given three red tickets to trade for a portion of meat. The chef with the most tickets at the end of the night wins a prize.
Now here is the dilemma. You have three tickets, and there are fifty different kinds of meat concoctions to choose from ranging from duck, fish, shrimps, beef, pork, turkey (you name it they had it), all done in unusual ways from curry to hand stirred wok delicacies, from jerked pork to stuffed chicken.
How can you ever be expected to just choose three…? Well, you revert to bribery and talk some of the chefs into giving you “just a taste.”
All of the dishes had unique names like “Just Winging It,” “Leg Before Wicket” and “Beef Wah Las” to name a few. The competition between the chefs is quite keen as each one tries to talk you into their dish and not their competitor’s.
The food was delicious, and all I can say is well done Carlton Chefs you did the Club proudly.
The camaraderie between the members was terrific. Many young members are now taking up the mantle and cooking and running the bars.
The entertainment, the dancing, and especially the food were all exceptional, and I know that “Uncle Ren” was overlooking the entire evening with a small smile on his lips and nodding his head saying to himself “Well Done! You guys did me proud!”
By: Anna Page