Dorel Callender nee Hay’s career has been in public service. She has worked for the Governments of Canada and Jamaica. She headed Jamaica’s first Economic Division of the Foreign Ministry; represented the Government in numerous international meetings and events and was the first woman to serve on the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). As advisor to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) for 15 years, she initiated and coordinated that institution’s assistance to the Caribbean.
Dorel was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Government of Jamaica and has received several other awards including the 2004 UNIA Marcus Garvey Award for Community Service to the Caribbean/American Community of Greater Washington DC, and the 2006 Award for National and Community Service from Wolmer’s Alumni Association (US Chapter). Dorel Callender has a BA (honours) and MA in Economics from the University of Toronto, Canada.
JNA also salutes her commitment to family (her husband Victor, her children, and grandchildren) and to ensuring that Jamaican culinary traditions are accessible to younger generations through her book, A Caribbean Mom’s Table, a compilation of traditional and modern Caribbean recipes. The idea for this cookbook came from Callender’s deceased Grenadian husband Dr. C Victor Callender who believed that ‘you are what you eat’, and wanted to ensure that future generations would eat Caribbean foods.
A notable feature of the cookbook is that it offers glimpses of Caribbean history that illustrate how historical events have dictated the foods and dishes that are found on today’s tables. Each dish can be viewed as windows on the colorful history of the islands. Those glimpses also illustrate that modern Caribbean cuisine is an eclectic blend of cooking cultures and techniques from all the major cuisines of the world. The reason is simple: During the past 500 years, the islands were visited by waves of conquerors, explorers, buccaneers, pirates, traders and missionaries who were Native Indians, Spanish, French, British landowners, African slaves, indentured Chinese and East Indians and Dutch, Irish, French, German, Jewish, Lebanese, Portuguese, and Scottish immigrants. All have contributed their foods, spices, and cooking methods, which over time have been melded and combined to become a bold, unique cuisine.
JNA also recognizes her deep belief in the importance of a strong local Jamaican heritage organization when she became one of the earliest JNA Lifetime members. Born in Jamaica as the eldest of six children and the only female, Dorel is the mother to two married children and two grandchildren. One of Dorel’s favorite memories growing up in Jamaica was visiting Fern Gully with her father.