For Dr. Corrie Amos of Westchester Medical Center, healing the body and soul is a mission, not just a career. Spending her childhood between New York City and Jamaica, she often found herself in either of two places: playing Operation, to unlock the intricacies of how the human body worked, or in her grandmother’s kitchen. “I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother, just learning how to craft different traditional Jamaican dishes,” says Amos.
Cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer in the U.S., and Black Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than their White counterparts. As an anesthesiologist, Amos is a firsthand witness of the effects of these disproportionate health outcomes. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 80% of cardiovascular disease is preventable. The answer for Amos was obvious: Her mission to serve her community would begin before those within it ever showed up in her surgical suite. By stepping out from behind the medical curtain, she would use her knowledge of nutrition and medicine to create products that would address the lifestyle changes needed to prevent heart disease. And she would make them delicious.
Amos’ expression of Caribbean-inspired cuisine is filtered through the lens of a conscious lifestyle change and an innate duty to initiate change. Her company, The Spice Theory (thespicetheory.com), offers a premium line of low-sodium spice blends with curated flavor profiles that address the health gap in a culturally responsive way. Each spice blend should feel familiar to those who grew up surrounded by Caribbean flavors yet be a culinary adventure for those who didn’t. Labeled with monikers rooted in the lyrical subculture of reggae and dance-hall music, Amos’s products are quite literally bringing customers to her dinner table. “Many of these spice blends are family recipes,” explains the Westchester County resident. Others were Amos’ continuation of her natural impulse to create. “I developed my own creative aesthetic, building on familiar blends while adding a few ingredients that are much different from the usual recipe,” she adds. “I experimented a little bit, like I love to do, and then started having dinner parties at my home where I started feeding people with these different spice blends, just to get their feedback.”
“I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my grandmother, just learning how to craft different traditional Jamaican dishes.”
—Dr. Corrie Amos
Among Amos’ most popular products are the smoked scotch bonnet pepper sea salt, the citrus smoked bourbon barrel sea salt, and her “Welcome to Jamrock” jerk spice (which boasts 55% less sodium than comparable jerk seasoning blends). Often, ingredients like pimento, scotch bonnet pepper, coriander, and ginger, which are vital to jerk seasoning, are voided from mass-produced spice blends manufactured by commercial companies. “Black food culture highly influences American food culture, and I want to be at the helm of telling that story,” explains Amos.
For those raised by immigrants, food is not merely a means of nutrition or an assigned meal throughout the day. It is a way of communicating without words, a hallmark of care that resides at the crossroads of love and culture. By continuing her grandmother’s teaching of inspiring and offering people peace with food, Amos has built a legacy of healing and meeting people where they are. “My goal is to make wellness more tangible and inclusive for Afro-Caribbean people through cooking classes featuring robust spice blends and experiential dinner parties that focus on nutrition education,” says Amos. “I find that breaking bread is the perfect avenue for informal discourse and learning.”
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