Jamaican street food dates to as early as the 18th century when enslaved workers sold food during the British colonisation period. They were served in small quantities out of gourds and earned the name “street food”. Today, food courts around the world mimic this concept, even in Australia. But Jamaican flavours cannot be easily copied. For 19 years, Errol Dunkley, a second-generation Jamaican migrant, has been educating Australians on this type of cuisine, including its intense flavours and culture.
He is owner of Kazz's Jamaican Kitchen, a mobile barbecue trailer, and lives by the philosophy, “We'll bring the flavours to you.”
From an early age Dunkley became aware of his culinary passions. “We all had chores at home. Mine was the kitchen. I'd get involved in cleaning ingredients and making Sunday dinner for the extended family, all using traditional techniques.
“The concept revolves around bringing Jamaica to people through festivals and events. Anyone looking for his stand can find out where he will be next through his website and social media accounts.
Few Caribbean dishes are as well-travelled as jerk chicken. The term “jerk” refers to the dish itself and the cooking method. Dunkley's cooking method mirrors his traditions. He uses the jerk pan, a large oil drum cut in half that acts as a cooking hub for generously marinated meat.
Using charcoal to start the fire, he gets the heat up 250-300 degrees. Then he starts to cook the boneless meat. Whilst Jamaicans back home prefer to butterfly chicken on the bone; he caters for the Aussie palate.
The meat feels crispy when it is first touched. Yet, when broken apart, succulent white meat falls tenderly into a plate accompanied by roasted corn, which is part of the menu options. The first whiff of smoke is quickly overtaken by the marinade used in the dish. Best eaten with rice and peas, the kick from Scotch bonnet peppers is usually felt at the back of the throat. But first, expect to enjoy the chewiness of charred skin and soft meat. “People often think that spicy is the same as hot. So when they ask me if this dish is spicy, I say it's full of flavour.”
Another favourite dish amongst customers is the curry goat. “Goat is a robust meat. You can marinate it, and it still retains its flavour,” the effusive Jamaican explains before going on to describe his cooking process. Mixed with an assortment of spices, including cumin, fenugreek and paprika, the meat is slowly cooked within its juices. Scotch bonnet peppers give the curry enough heat to remind customers that Jamaican cuisine has personality. Thyme, allspice, garlic, and scallions are all part of the variety of ingredients that make this dish a memorable experience.
Australians can expect a carnival of flavours when they visit Dunkley's kitchen stand. It's a taste of his childhood. It's also a reminder that a Caribbean festival can be found on Kazz's Jamaican Kitchen plates on the streets of Western Australia.
To experience Kazz's Jamaican Kitchen and know where the mobile trailer will be next on the streets of Western Australia, please visit www.kazzsjamaicankitchen.com.au
— Bridgett Leslie is an internal auditor by day and a media correspondent by night. She is passionate about Caribbean flavours and the community around this culinary cuisine. She is currently finishing her undergraduate studies in Gastronomy at Le Cordon Bleu.