Daniel Edwards can easily be mistaken for an experienced businessman when you hear him speak. But he's just 20 years old, with a stout vision to use his Jamaican culture as a tool for educating millennials about his world. The first generation migrant uses TikTok to jerk the social media clock with his Jamaican cooking tutorials with a Southern Asian twist.
Born to a Jamaican dad and a Sri Lankan mum, Edwards' influences trail a wide spice route. His first brush with culinary entrepreneurship came at 17 years old when he helped his dad run a food stall, Wingman Jamaican Wings. The brand is only sold at the Jamaican Music and Food Festival and is the kind of dish in which eating with fingers is fully encouraged.
The original recipe was inspired during a visit to his aunt who resides in Toronto, Canada. “My dad tasted this dish Aunty Carol made, and it was delicious. When we came home, I helped him make the sauce as close in flavour to what we tasted.” The wings are marinated overnight in a blend of sweet succulence from flavours like pimento. During the final step of preparation, wings are dipped into an egg wash and flour mix. Next, they are tossed into the secret sauce he learned to perfect. “They sold out the first time we made them,” the graphic design university student says. The sauce showcases Jamaica's king ingredient, Scotch bonnet pepper, along with pimento and other ingredients. Sweetness on the palate, then heat from the Scotch bonnet. Culture is essential to the rising star who happens to be a model too.
Using his social media profile, Edwards started showcasing Jamaican and fusion dishes after he noticed that nobody his age was interested in promoting their ethnic cultures. “Aussie kids my age think Jamaica is about dreadlocks, jerk chicken and the movie Cool Runnings.”
He's worked hard to debunk myths about his culture. Unwilling to not identify with his father's roots, he started a social enterprise, Black is Beautiful (BIB).
The company focuses on promoting, educating and endorsing black culture; and also advocating social change. Using his culinary background, the enterprise showcases West Indian and African recipes, including cooking tutorials. “Growing up in Melbourne, I felt detached from my blackness and my African identity. We want to serve as a hub for black culture in Australia,” his focus resolute. But Jamaica is only one part of this culinary story.
His TikTok account houses a few fusion dishes that he's perfected along the way. His curried goat includes garam masala, Scotch bonnet, thyme, onions, tomatoes, scallions. The peppery blends of coriander and cumin seeds with peppercorns mean an additional layer of flavour is infused into the meat. Curries, done right, invite intensity on the tongue. To date, his account has attracted over a million likes.
Edwards has his eye on his own changing generation's attitudes towards Jamaican culture. Watch out for this rising star who is unapologetic about his Jamaican roots.
— 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.