Judy Joseph

Bookshop & coffee bar, 1990s- 2010s

I remember thinking I would go to their café part, and went into the café part, and I remember seeing these, they were Caribbean women who were just beautifully clean and well-presented behind the counter.  And then there were all these various Caribbean foods, including, [laughs] this particular dish which is called a roti.  And, I remember thinking, mm, rotis are normally horrible, my experiences of having them are horrible, but I will have a go, I’ll actually taste these.  So I bought a roti, brought it home, [laughs] and it was absolutely delicious.

Describe the good rotis for me.

A good roti.  It’s, the pastry, it’s very light. It’s very flaky.  When it’s made, it’s light, it’s flaky, it’s tasty.  There is a way you make it that it’s just absolutely delicious, the texture. It’s just, it, it’s just something about it that, it just brought back Trinidad for me. 

When Judy Joseph reflects on Centerprise, she remembers the ‘light’ and ‘flaky’ rotis sold in the cafe that ‘brought back Trinidad’ for her.

She first visited Centerprise in the early 1990s to obtain books for her Caribbean Studies Degree and was initially ‘energised’ by the literature on the shelves. But, as the course progressed she became less impressed and would forgo the bookshop, instead visiting the cafe to eat a ‘delicious’ roti. Judy volunteered with A Hackney Autobiography: Remembering Centerprise, an experience which completely changed her perception of Centerprise. She thought it was a black organisation, and was surprised to encounter so many ‘older, white, middle-class’ individuals at the Project’s launch event at Bishopsgate Institute. Judy’s parents were Grenadians, but she spent her early childhood in Aruba and Trinidad, the latter her place of birth, before migrating to England. She grew up in Chiswick, west London. Although resident in England for many decades, Judy is widely travelled and has worked abroad intermittently.  Her diverse career path includes working in the NHS, latterly as a community health manager, and as a health researcher in Grenada.  Currently, Judy works as an educator at the British Museum.

Interviewed by Beth Young.

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Judy Joseph
© Sophie Polyviou