From mocktails to cocktails, or poured straight over some ice cream, Hibiscus beverages are the bright and punchy drink we can't get enough of this spring.
Hibiscus, a tropical-growing flower and the official flower of Haiti, has been long-hailed as a herbal remedy. For Mathilde Aurélien Wilson, owner of Mathilde’s Kitchen, the flower represents joy, immunity, and community celebration. As a culinary powerhouse, Mathilde is bringing her Haitian heritage to the world with her artisanal Hibiscus beverages.
Mathilde’s passion for giving back and community involvement have been two of her life’s major driving forces. Mathilde spent her childhood learning to cook with her mom in their cook shack set high in the Haitian mountains. Later, after receiving her degree in Agronomy at the University of Havana, Mathilde went back to Haiti to work directly with local farmers through CARES. Sharing her wealth of knowledge on everything from soil conservation and nutrition to modern farming techniques helped farmers to yield more crops and earn more income. During this time, she also opened her own non-profit, Haiti Community Support Inc., which helped to fund projects like a school and health clinic in the remote village where she was born.
Shortly after, Mathilde then opened a popular eco-lodge, Mt. Victory Camp (ranked as “Outdoor Magazine” top 10 eco-lodges in the world the year it opened), in the US Virgin Islands focused on low-impact, sustainably-based farming. It was here where Mathilde perfected and refined nourishing recipes from her childhood.
A few years later, Mathilde and family made their way to Portland, Oregon. After living on an island her whole life, she dreamed of raising her family in a bigger society with more opportunities. Portland’s slower-paced, welcoming community drew her in, but she noticed one thing missing: Haitian food!
Passionate for the beauty and richness of Haitian culture, Mathilde looked for opportunities to share Haiti's vibrant food with the community. She landed at the Portland Mercado, a food incubator, where she opened Jouk Li Jou, a food cart centered on home-cooked French Carribean cuisine. It was here she felt she had found a home to receive coaching, attend workshops, and build her business all while connecting a new community to this cuisine. Within its first year, Jouk Li Jou was titled as one of The Oregonian’s best new carts and was top 15 in all of Portland by its second year.
Following the success of Jouk Li Lou, Mathilde made the leap to focus on sharing Haiti in a new way with her bottled Hibiscus brews. We were so taken with her Hibiscus & Ginger brew, we knew we needed to turn it into ice cream. In our Mathilde’s Hibiscus & Coconut Sherbet (v), we take her spicy ginger brew, add a little coconut cream, then churn it into our very own joy-inducing, tropical creamsicle-esque sherbet.