There’s no denying it, Bernie Gendron is a giver. The chef and proprietor of Island Jerk on Newcastle Avenue in Brunswick is at all times able to open her coronary heart … or her recipe e-book to share with others.

Living proof, on an early Tuesday morning, she obtained a name from a patron about the place to seek out a few of her key jerk spices. Gendron surrendered her secrets and techniques with out hesitation.

“I’m an open e-book,” she says with a shrug.

In fact, recreating the flavors she cooks up at her restaurant isn’t any straightforward job. The method will not be solely labor intensive, nevertheless it requires a deep data of the supply of the meals, the Caribbean Islands.

“The factor is … it needs to be contemporary. That’s the important thing to Jamaican meals. It’s a must to use contemporary produce, contemporary seasoning and herbs,” she mentioned. “We now have our meats lower customized.”

Gendron has been refining her cooking abilities for years, which is why so many patrons flock to her downtown house. Nevertheless it’s not simply the paying prospects, a lot of them are homeless and hungry. And, true to her nature, Gendron welcomes them in with open arms.

“I can’t flip anybody away whereas I’ve meals in my kitchen,” she mentioned. “I simply can’t try this.”

However to assist the hungry, Gendron established a Meals in Reserve program in 2017. It’s a easy idea, a diner involves order a meal, then donates $5 to go towards a meal for somebody in want. These in want may even obtain a sizzling plate and bottle of water.

To place it mildly, this system has been wildly profitable.

“I really rolled out this system as a result of so many individuals have been coming in asking for meals. And I knew we needed to do one thing, so we began the Meals in Reserve program,” she mentioned.

“Since we began this program, we now have given out over 5,000 meals. We most likely get about 10 to fifteen donations every week, which actually helps. We’ve seen much more homeless recently … I don’t know what’s occurring, however we now have.”

Whereas Gendron serves those that come to her for assist each day, she can also be planning forward for a special occasion the place these in want are normally not noted within the chilly — Thanksgiving.

For fairly a while, she’s served up a donation-based meal, permitting those that come to pay what they will (if they will pay in any respect).

“It is going to be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving (Nov. 25),” she mentioned. “It’s principally the homeless that come, they usually can get a sizzling Thanksgiving plate.”

Her compassion for these in want is inspiring, as Gendron constantly finds methods to assist others. Nevertheless it’s not simply the homeless or the downtrodden that she lends a hand to … she additionally serves up meals for the uncommon few Golden Islanders who don’t eat meat.

Actually an anomaly within the South, Gendron’s restaurant provides a respite for individuals who are vegetarian or who’re merely embracing the meatless Monday motion.

Certainly one of her hottest menu objects is the veggie delight, that includes a contemporary, colourful mixture of corn, squash, carrots and peppers. One other go-to is her garlic pan fried tofu.

“Tofu actually is flavorless so it takes on the flavour of no matter you cook dinner it in … so you need to construct the flavour. For our garlic pan fried tofu, the suggestion is to fry the tofu previous to placing it within the garlic, onion and butter sauce as a result of it should maintain its texture and kind higher,” she mentioned.

Island Jerk’s Garlic Pan Fried Tofu

1/4 lb tofu (agency or further agency, lower to about 1 inch cubes)

All goal flour for dusting tofu, gluten free if desired

3/4 cup multi-colored candy pepper (or inexperienced pepper and onion combine if most popular)

Frivolously mud items of tofu with flour and frivolously fry, put aside.

Saute onions and peppers in garlic butter to al dente. Pour in water, black pepper, Goya Adobe (to style), then drop in items of tofu. Convey to a gradual rolling boil, add in slurry till it thickens. Serve over brown rice.

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