Island Thyme is a fast casual Caribbean Grille with a menu that is inspired by the food and culture of owner Chef Vern Thomas’ upbringing in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Their Caribbean food is prepared fresh to order, including some of the most popular Caribbean dishes such as spicy Jerk Chicken, homestyle Braised Oxtail, crunchy Coconut Shrimp and savory Rock City BBQ Ribs.BRAISED OXTAIL
We spoke with Chef Vern about Island Thyme and his inspiration and roots in St. Thomas in the U.S Virgin Islands as well as his background as a long time Executive Chef.
What are your inspirations behind the food at Island Thyme?
The food at Island Thyme is inspired by my experiences growing up on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
I had a great childhood growing up in the islands, with my Mom Joannah Thomas who was an amazing cook and would make wonderful made from scratch meals every day.
There would be lots of fresh seafood delivered daily by local fishermen, fresh ingredients from her garden and our home was always filled with aromas that would make your mouth water. My mother inspired me to become a Chef.
I have 4 brothers and 1 sister, and food was at the center of everything in our home. We would have meals together as a family and just enjoy the flavors and the discussion.
My favorite foods growing up are definitely fresh seafood and island specialties like Meat Pates and Johnny Cakes. These are also some of the most popular menu items.
What do you wish people knew about Island Thyme?
I wish people knew that Island Thyme captures the flavors of many Islands in the Caribbean. There are so many cultures due to the melting pot of diversity in the Caribbean.
Some of the differences in Cuisine from island to island have a lot to do with the diversity of the people and culture.
BAKED MAC & CHEESE
An example would be some Spanish speaking islands like Cuba or Puerto Rico has a more Latin cooking style influence to their food. Islands like Jamaica or the US Virgin Islands have an African influenced cooking style and Islands like Trinidad and Tobago has an Indian influence to their food preparation.
We use a lot of the same ingredients but there are differences in culture and techniques in preparation of many classic dishes.
ISLAND MEAT EMPANADAS
Tell us about your background and culinary experience
I’ve been a Chef professionally for almost 30 years. Started as a culinary apprentice and worked my way up to Executive Chef at some of the best resorts in the Caribbean. I’ve enhanced my culinary education at the Culinary Institute of America and the Culinary Institute of Tuscany in Italy.
I’ve spent many years as executive chef in research and development for some of the largest Casual Dining restaurant companies in the country. I opened Island Thyme in 2017 and appreciate all the support of our Avalon Park community.
COCONUT SHRIMP TACOS
If you could eat any meal for the rest of your life, what would that meal look like?
Jerk Chicken would be my meal. Just got to love that wonderful dish.
SWEET PLANTAIN LASAGNA
Island Thyme Grille – East Orlando / Avalon Park
457 AVALON PARK S BLVD #600, ORLANDO, FL 32828
This visit is brought to us by PepsiDig, @pepsidigin, highlighting local chefs and restaurants across America.