Read our review of Irie Zulu here or pick up a copy of the January issue on newsstands.
You’ve said you “never had a plan” to create a spice business, let alone a restaurant. Where does the ambition come from?
I cook from the heart and have a passion for my country. I won’t deny that it’s challenging as a chef. [But] I’m not going to cook here what people can have everywhere else. I make things as I go. I did not want this to be mass-produced!
How did you choose the name?
“Irie” is Jamaican for “cool” and “connected to nature.” And “Zulu” is an iconic tribe in Africa. I wanted buzz words connected to my brand. If you look at my logo, it’s like a combination of Shaka Zulu and Bob Marley.
What are your goals for Irie Zulu?
The next generation is an African “deli” [which will occupy the glass cases next to the bar]. I want to do salads infused with my spices – black-eyed pea salad, corn salad. In spring, we’ll do a custard made with millet, and little snacks. But I don’t want to get away from what got me started – my product line.
Which spices are essential and staples in your pantry?
Allspice is No. 1. Nutmeg, garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper. And I grind all of my seasonings.
Are there dishes you consider essential to the cuisines you’re featuring?
Absolutely. Peanut stew, both chicken and vegetarian. Whole fish served with tomato-onion relish. Oxtail stew from Jamaica. There are so many.