Business

Palmer brings flair for exotic food to FW

A long, international trail of cooking and catering has led Nandel Palmer to Federal Way for the opening of Nyam Well Catering and Party Planning.

Palmer, owner-operator of the Caribbean-themed enterprise that will host a reception and open house this Saturday, relocated here six months ago from New York City. In the Big Apple, he catered to politicians, college presidents, opera singers and sports stars.

The Jamaica native, who came to the United States 17 years ago, also studied culinary arts in New York City and has visited Thailand, Japan, Ghana, Nigeria, Peru, England, France, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico to learn about native dishes. He quipped that he can cook a dish from every continent except Antarctica.

“I’ve always loved cooking for the people around me and watching as their faces light up,” said Palmer, who has cooked since he was 7 years old.

Still, he said, he never dreamed he would cook professionally until friends urged him to go into the restaurant or catering business. That led 12 years ago to the start of Nyam Well Catering (the name comes from a neighbor in Palmer’s boyhood Jamaica who often told him, “Boy, this food nyam well”).

Palmer said he opted for catering instead of a restaurant because “the operating cost was far more economical.”

Juices and soups are a large part of Nyam Well’s business. The popularity of tropical, “health-based” drinks is booming on the East Coast and spreading nationally, Palmer added.

After living in New York for 16 years, Palmer decided he “needed a change” and chose the Seattle area. After visiting here last April, he returned to New York, packed his belongings and left for his new home Sept. 6, five days before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Focusing on parties of 10 to 400 people, Palmer sees his catering as a way to spread diversity through food.

“Whenever culinary boundaries are broken down, then it’s a good sign that dialogues across the board can commence,” he said.

He said the U.S. restaurant industry has experienced a “robust increase” in the commercialization of international food, especially from Southeast Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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