Caribbean-style restaurant creates an island experience

By Robin Laroche

Contributing Writer

“I want to be part of the community, I want to give back. I try to make a difference in life, because I think … if the youth today doesn’t see us make a difference, they will have nothing to reflect on,” said Harold Welsh, chef and owner of The Hummingbird Cafe in Solvang.

In conversation, Welsh reveals that he is just as passionate about people as he is about food.

Harold Welsh, chef and owner of The Hummingbird Café, makes his food to order. He understands dietary restrictions because he is diabetic.
Photo contributed

In his 20s, Welsh found out that he was diabetic and it changed his life. As he was living in Santa Barbara, Welsh turned to Samsung Clinic for treatment and education. He began working with certified dieticians to create meals that were diabetic friendly and after years of holding the title of executive chef at restaurants from San Ysidro Ranch to Citronelle, Welsh started his own company, World Cuisine.

He began tailoring meal plans, taught cooking classes and delivered cuisine for people who had special dietary requirements.

“I really wanted to make things taste good without using things we don’t really need,” he explained. “Be simple, easy on the fat, easy on the carbs, just keep it real.”

And just as he describes it, he does keep it real. His café will not only lure you in with delicious aromas, but it will make your feet want to dance up its steps to the beats of the Caribbean music that echoes from its windows.

Chef Harold Welsh makes traditional Jamaican Jerk Chicken, mild or hot.
Photo contributed

Nestled in the quaint courtyard of Atterdag Square, The Hummingbird Café is quite possibly the smallest restaurant in Solvang, and it pumps out some of the town’s most unusual eats. Jamaican Jerk Chicken is a house specialty. Equally tasty is the Cubano Sandwich or the Shrimp Mango Salad. Everything Welsh cooks is made to order, which makes it perfect for those with dietary restrictions or those who simply want to kick the heat up a notch.

“I didn’t want nothin’ to do with food!” Welsh chuckled as he reflected on how he got to where he is, “I didn’t choose this job … this job chose me.”

In the ’90s, Welsh came to California for what he thought was going to be a vacation. Just a few days in, he was working in his dad’s restaurant in Sunnyvale. His vacation turned in to a career. Welsh ended up traveling down the coast and fell in love with this area. He spent years as an executive chef, a personal chef, and an activist for diabetic research before starting this new venture in Solvang.

Now, he is cooking food from the heart and delivering five-star quality to his clientele. He continues to support the Samsung Diabetes Foundation and is working on a cookbook for the foundation.

If you can’t go to Barbados, you can take a little island time at The Hummingbird, where Welsh can take your taste buds to the Caribbean. Don’t be in too much of a hurry, however, because he is a one man show. However, the wait is worth it.

The Hummingbird Cafe at 453 Atterdag Road is open Wednesday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays until 9 p.m. Follow him on Facebook to find out new or special menu items.