April 08, 2017

Spanish Town’s unique jerk experience

Published in The Jamaica Observer

There are jerk men and jerk men, and then there is this special one who appeals to his customers in quite unique ways — jerking rabbit meat being one of them.

If you happen to be driving towards the GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport from the Spanish Town bypass in St Catherine on a Friday or Saturday afternoon, it is highly likely that a few metres before getting to the institution, something will hit you.

You will spot a blue, black and yellow Best Dressed Chicken jerk stand, smoke- emitting silver jerk pans, a blue tarpaulin, seats and people lined up — all this to behold at the entrance of Villmore Gardens on the right side of the roadway.

A man wearing an apron, flipping meat kind such as rabbit, chicken, pork, sheep, among other things on a grill, is known to his patrons as: Chicken Man, Rabbit Man, Jerky, among others. But he is the real deal: Tarik Brown indeed.

Brown graduated from Jonathon Grant High School in Spanish Town, St Catherine, with an attitude of “self-reliance”, as described by him. This attitude he carried with him and, according to him, working for someone else has never crossed his mind. “Neva eva, eva, I don’t know how to ask fi a work, not even write a résumé, nothing like that. Me believe inna self-reliance, me programmed that way,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Brown started off selling coconut water in Portland, and by doing so he noticed people jerking and thought he would try it. His loved ones had faith in him and when he shared his idea, his mother-in-law at the time got him a stall at the Portland Jerk Festival in 2007 and he took all his items for jerking with him: pork, fish, chicken, lobster, and sheep that year. Things were running smoothly and he entered a contest while at the festival and came out victorious. This set Brown off to a reputable start. Following this he started his jerk business a couple years later, in 2009 at the entrance of his housing scheme, Vilmore Gardens in Spanish Town.
Brown’s task was not rocky, mainly because his father was a livestock farmer who was willing to help in making the animals readily available to him.

The entrepreneur does not do any advertising, largely because his customers spread the word about his products by introducing others to them. According to Brown, on his priority list and what carries the bulk of sales is the chicken, pork and rabbit. “Di rabbit a run dem dung, so at night time when you see some ladies come with their crew and buy their pound a rabbit, you see dem crew come and say: ‘Jerky beg yu a taste nu; mi want fi taste it before mi buy it,’ and I’ll give them. Next week dem tell dem friend say it nice, so I mean, the demand, expectation is there; the quality is there, customer is satisfied, it’s great overall,” Brown said.

Passionate about what he does, Brown, who shared that he delivers quality results and takes pride in his job, creates recipes and includes a variety of items with his dishes. When he does this he usually gets a positive reaction from his customers.

“I jerk chicken, I jerk pork, I do fish, I do rabbit, I do goat, sheep, all bird I jerk, baldplate (baldpate), white wing… shoot them at year time, jerk them, and people come and buy them. Whatever I have and catch and can jerk, mi jerk,” Brown said.

He sells jerked rabbit for $2,000 per pound, $1000 for half a pound and $500 for a quarter pound. The cost of the other products fall in line with regular jerk rates elsewhere.

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