This year’s Food Fair Honoree Joyce Sprauve.
This year’s St. John Festival Food Fair honoree found her true passion only after trying her hand at several different careers first.
Joyce Sprauve has been cooking up johnny cakes, pates and more for the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization’s concession stands for years. Sprauve has also had an impact on generations of Love City’s budding cooks as the home economics teacher at the Julius E. Sprauve School for the past 21 years.
“We chose Joyce Sprauve as the Food Fair Honoree because of all of the dedicated service she has done for the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization,” said the group’s chairperson Leona Smith. “She made the johnny cakes and pates that we sold at the concession stand for years. She is also known for her prepared delicacies like jam and preserves.”
In addition to her work at JESS and for the Festival Organization, Sprauve has also been keeping herself busy with her new enterprise Taste of Love City, located across from the entrance to the Enighed Pond Marine Facility, which she runs with Dariel Bastian.
Sprauve was honestly a little surprised when she read in the newspaper that she was this year’s Food Fair honoree, she explained.
“I would like to thank the St. John Festival and Cultural Organization for honoring me,” said Sprauve. “I’ve known all of them for many years and at first when Leona asked me I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ And the next thing you know it’s in the newspaper that I’m going to be the honoree.”
“I asked Leona and she said, ‘I knew you were going to do it,’” Sprauve said.
Sprauve first honed her cooking skills at Daniel’s Restaurant, run by her aunt and uncle in the Pine Peace area in the 1970s.
“I was born on Tortola and when I came down to St. John, I didn’t come to work in my aunt’s restaurant,” she said. “But after they opened the restaurant, I decided that I wanted to learn how to cook real good. By going to work every day there I really did learn a lot.”
With a bevy of kitchen knowledge now under belt, Sprauve set out for New York City where she got certified in cosmetology and lived for a year and a half before returning to Love City. After a few years of doing hair in a St. John salon, Sprauve longed to do something different, she explained.
“I loved doing hair, but it just wasn’t me,” said Sprauve. “It was just not what I really wanted to do. I wanted a job where I didn’t have to hassle people for money.”
“So I decided to go away and do something else,” she said.
After taking a few accounting classes at the University of the Virgin Islands, Sprauve moved to the nation’s capitol where she earned a degree in home economics from the University of the District of Columbia.
“After I got my degree, Yvonne Wells, who was the principal at JESS at the time, asked me if I would like work back home,” said Sprauve. “So I came back home to a job and I’ve been there ever since.”
More than two decades later, Sprauve still loves welcoming students to her classroom every day.
“I love what I’m doing so I love my job; that is why I am still there,” she said. “I love to cook and I love to sew and I love to take other people’s recipes and fix them to my likings. I’ve tried so many recipes that didn’t come out really good.”
“So then you just have to add something or take something away to make it just right and that is the fun part,” said Sprauve.
Johnny cake is Sprauve’s favorite dish to prepare with her students, she added.
“My favorite food to make with my students is johnny cake because I love teaching them local dishes,” said Sprauve. “It’s a simple recipe but you have to play with it to get it right.”
At home, Sprauve often whips up favorite dishes like boil fish and fungi, or pick up salt fish with dumplings and green bananas.
Anyone who missed Sprauve’s stand at Food Fair on Sunday afternoon, June 26, be sure to stop by Taste of Love City across from the entrance to Enighed Pond Marine Facility for some of her fantastic cooking. Taste of Love City is open Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday is pate day when the eatery is open from 6 a.m. to noon.