Mother-son team Jordan Michel and Marreth Milton co-founded the Grand Market. Marreth started out in the early 1980’s selling homemade Jamaican sweet treats to co-workers at the Royal Bank of Canada in Kingston; at the time this was mostly a diversion, but with the encouragement of friends and colleagues, Marreth began taking these treats to Flea Markets and other venues where they received rave reviews.
Baking soon became a way of life; if she was not baking, Marreth was restless. Marreth continued to provide this service to my many customers, especially around Christmas until moving to the US in 1995. After earning a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management, Marreth continued to pursue her passion, creating Mam’s Kitchen. MAM happens to be her initials, and the nickname Jordan dubbed and has called her since he was 13.
As a child, Jordan split his time between his mother and grandparents in Jamaica, and his father in St. Lucia, growing up identifying as a JaLucian. He always loved to eat, much to the dismay of his grandmother who would say he ate like a bird (always picking at food, and never putting on weight). Every holiday or tradition involved a different food; National dishes, Easter Bun, Black Cake for Christmas… Food was a central part of Caribbean culture. As such, Jordan learned to experience culture through food. This philosophy drives our business today.
Jordan was drawn back to food by a demand for a sauce he once thought was “just something I make at home”. Antilles Hot Seasons was born, and the mother-son duo teamed up to form The Grand Market to share the culture of their home together showing the world there is more to taste beyond the mass produced food and culture we have become used to digesting from the Caribbean.
The Grand Market brings the flavor and culture of the Caribbean to the world by introducing you to a wide selection of foods and spices; from Jamaica’s famed Rum Cake (Fruit Cake/Black Cake) and Easter Bun, to Hot Sauces and Jerk Seasonings. Mother-Son team Marreth Milton and Jordan Michel create these authentic delicacies the way they learned growing up in the Caribbean.
The Jamaica Grand Market dates back to slavery. On Christmas Eve, slaves would get dressed up and meet at convenient, secluded locations where they could socialize. Other slaves would sell homemade items like straw hats, baskets made from bamboo, and brooms made from tash. There were also fruit, vegetables, and lots of food. They entertained themselves by singing and playing goat and cow skin drums. Despite their predicaments, the slaves still found a way to have fun, celebrate their culture and express their creativity.
Growing up, the vibrant colours of decorations and the amusing image of the Christmas Cow, adorned with flowery garlands and paraded about town did much to magnify the level of euphoria in the atmosphere. Adornments, food, toys, ground provisions; everything you could possibly need to enjoy the Christmas season awaited at Grand Market. There was, and still is, something about the air at Christmas time which is almost indescribable.
Jamaica’s Grand Market prevails to date as a gathering of joy and a deep expression of Jamaica’s culture and roots, serving still as the ultimate harvest. It is the most wonderful experience of tantalizing flavors and tastes, running the gamut of sweet, savory, tangy, spicy, and even “super fiyah”. It is on this foundation that The Grand Market was formed; to share the experience and joy of having all your childhood favorites at your fingertips.
We will be visiting with Maroon communities in Jamaica, as well as farmers and cultural leaders in the Antilles Islands. One of our goals with The Grand Market is to support these communities financially and raise awareness about the cultures and ways of life that they are fighting to hold on to.
Your support for our loan will allow us to build trust and develop partnerships so that we can source our ingredients from them and arrange profit sharing in addition to what we will paying them for their products.
This loan will also help cover the cost of filming and editing a short documentary to raise awareness about these communities, the cultures they fight to hold on to, the struggles they face, and the work we are doing together.