Our family recently returned from a much needed respite in the Cayman Islands. It was there that I met a most interesting entrepreneur. On our first morning there, we wandered over to a dock where a small fishing boat had just returned. A family of four had caught many fish including three keepers: two barracuda and a nice sized mahi mahi. As the friendly captain filleted the fish, I asked him about the best way to prepare those particular fish. He mentioned several preparations and then I noticed something interesting: he threw the barracuda carcasses in the water, but kept the mahi mahi carcass. Being curious, I asked about that. His reply was that his wife makes a delicious fish head soup that they sell at their restaurant just down the coast. “You should come to my restaurant, Captain Herman’s. Best fish fry on the island.”
“Pure genius!” I thought. Captain Herman gets tourists to pay him for a morning of fishing where he gets free fresh ingredients for his restaurant to sell that day. I had to know more about Captain Herman and made a mental note to visit his restaurant.
Three days later we made the trip to Captain Herman’s restaurant where we enjoyed a wide variety of island favorites including turtle stew, conch soup, curried goat, spicy beef, mahi mahi, and jerk chicken. While ordering our food, my wife asked a simple question that received an unusual reply. “What is the base of the conch soup? Is it a cream base or a broth or something else?” she asked. “Pumpkin,” replied the Captain’s wife. Why would a conch soup in the Cayman Islands use pumpkin as a base? The answer to that question revealed another level in Captain Herman’s vertically integrated entrepreneurial endeavor.
As our dinner was prepared I learned that Captain Herman is also a farmer. On his farm he grows mango (so many that some of them rot every year), papaya, cucumbers, watermelons, pumpkins, tomatoes, and all of the scotch bonnet peppers sold in Grand Cayman’s eight grocery stores. The friendly fishing boat captain is actually a brilliant entrepreneur making money at every level of his enterprise. My experience with him on the dock earlier in the week gave me an idea for another revenue stream for him. He could sell tours of his farm where tourists would pay him to pick mangoes for him. He liked the idea and I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Captain Herman’s Mango Farm Tours” should we return to the island nation.
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