Ray's Jerk Shack, Jamaican grill

Pleasing palates in Doha

BY HOWARD WALKER
Senior staff reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, October 05, 2019

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Doha, Qatar — Eight years ago Ray Payne left London to accompany his wife, who was offered a lucrative job in Doha, totally oblivious of what he would be doing with his life.

But London-born son of a Jamaican mother and Guyanese father quickly found his niche — preparing tasty meals in a land hungry for spicy cuisine.

Welcome to Ray's Jerk Shack — the Jamaican Grill that is creating waves in Doha.

“When I came out here and I realised that there is no Caribbean food, no Jamaican food here to eat in terms of when you want a good home-cooked food, something that you are used to at home. My mama taught me how to cook from long time, so I decided to do my own thing,” Payne shared.

“My mom is from May Pen. I went there [Jamaica] three years ago in Ochi Rios. Jamaica is a nice place, lovely place,” he emphasised.

“My mom is a wicked [good] cook. She too had done catering and baked cakes, the wickedest [best] mutton and curry goat. Ain't no one can test it all now. There was something so authentic about it. My Jamaican culture has always been there,” he reassured the Jamaica Observer.

Payne started out operating by taking orders from his home and delivering to his clients and with every meal his clientèle grew beyond the 100 Jamaicans living here in Qatar, and his Nigerian wife Hannah, who sampled most of his homestyle Jamaican cooking, encouraged him to do it whole scale.

“It started with the Internet, Facebook and Instagram and we cook to order as not to waste our food and I deliver. Then it just started picking up as friends started spreading the word and eventually it reached people we don't even know from other countries. It spread like wildfire,” said Payne.

“We have a lot to offer. We are a small island but big heart. Other persons gravitate towards our food. Not only is it good food and people like good food, it is something different,” he noted.

“They have their Indian food, Arabic food, Turkey food, grill, but it's not Jamaican food. So when they taste the spices I bring to them and the scotch bonnet pepper, rice and peas, the combinations together is mouth-watering,” he continued.

“It's doesn't matter where they are from. I have had Arabs eat the food, Europeans eat the food, Africans eat the food and we know they try to stick to their own, but good food is good food,” he boasted.

With his business expanding, Payne is forced to move out of his home and has already secured a prime spot in the Bin Omran area, where the finishing decorations are being done with a view to opening in a couple of months.

His most popular menu is jerked chicken with rice and peas and coleslaw, jerked lamb chops, jerked salmon with shrimp and he has expanded into doing patty and coco bread with plantains.

For dessert there is the Jamaican carrot cake with his original mango, guava or pineapple juice.

“So with the Ray's Jerk Shack, not only is it just the food, but I wanted to use it as a platform for the Jamaican community, the Caribbean community. We got something now, here is our food, here is our show,” said Payne.

“Reggae dances can now be sponsored by Ray's Jerk. We have [had] some Caribbean artistes — Romaine Virgo he was bad [good], Beenie Man light up the place. Sean Kingston came and that was big. Sean Paul and that was good also. So when they come they have good food to give them, the home from home feeling,” he added.

“I have been out here eight years and there is no stopping. We have the World Cup to come in 2022, which is another big landmark, Ray's Jerk wants to be there and spread the love and food to everyone coming over to different cultures,” said Payne.


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