AUTHENTIC Caribbean cuisine is taking off in Blackburn bringing communities from across East Lancashire and beyond together with the help of a chef with a passion for spice.

That was the aim of David Wilson who first opened his Caribbean restaurant Calypso in Blackburn in 2008.

The Manchester-born chef has since grown a great reputation for cooking delicious food and was recently awarded a certificate of excellence by guests who rated Calypso 4.5 out of 5 on Trip Advisor.

But for Englishman David, his passion for cooking Caribbean food started before he was a teenager.

“Growing up in Manchester in a West Indian community, I used to watch my friend’s mum and grandma cook and I was intrigued. When I was 12 I entered the junior cooking competition at Manchester’s famous Caribbean Carnival in Moss Side and won with my curried goat dish,” said Dave who creates his own jerk sauce.

In March 2011 Calypso Restaurant relocated from underneath The Woodlands Hotel, Preston new Road, to The Wharf at Eanam, Blackburn along the Leeds Liverpool Canal, and is ready to launch a take away service for the narrowboat drivers who sail through.

“I have always had a passion for cooking this kind of food and the restaurant move has been great, we are busy welcoming people from as far as Yorkshire. We have customers coming from Burnley and Preston to taste the food and it makes a nice change to have people coming to Blackburn, rather than Blackburners going to them, it’s about keeping it in the town,” said David who has been in the catering business for the last 19 years.

David said that Caribbean food has been welcomed by people from all walks of life and different communities and once people have tasted good Caribbean food, it will become as everyday as phoning out for a pizza or a Chinese.

“I have even managed to build up a good reputation with Asian families in Blackburn, they trust me and like the cooking. All of the meat is halal and if they want something with spice they can get it at Calypso; it’s good to have that trust.”

Last year the 48-year-old appeared on Marco Pierre White's Kitchen Wars on Channel 5, as the celebrity chef hunted for the couple who create Britain’s best dining experience.

He took part with his daughter Gemma who comes back from university every weekend to work front-of-house.

David who employs 14 staff members at Calypso, said: “For many years I have enjoyed cooking for my family and friends, at festivals including Glastonbury and also at shows and educating those who have not had the chance to taste Caribbean food. The show was a good experience.

“But my journey has all been about experiences, and team work, I have a lady who is Moroccan and a lady who is Brazilian working alongside me and they are fantastic. The bar staff and the front-of-house team are fantastic.”