Searching for the Real Taste of the Caribbean – Chef Jason Howard

It is the ambrosia of all international cuisines… A melting pot of tantalisingly divine and exotically delectable dishes, all lending influence from around the world. Piquant at times and aromatically arousing, this diverse cuisine is currently on a resurgence of all times and leading his way is Chef Jason Howard. Bringing a new take on Caribbean cuisine, Chef Jason Howard’s key lies in a balance of flavours.

I am Barbadian and I think about promoting Caribbean food as a whole because there is so much different taste. Being in London and doing a lot of international cuisine, I see a lot of familiarity in different cuisines, such as the French, Italian, Spanish and everything. At one point in history all of these cultures were in the Caribbean.So the Caribbean as they say is a melting pot of different tastes.

Citing, his father, Gordon Ramsay and Jean Francois as his role models, aspiring to become one of the world’s top Caribbean chef’s, Chef Jason Howard has managed to expertly serve paradise on a plate. A junior sous chef at the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair, London, he has horned his culinary craft for the last 14 years, working under the supervision of Chef Jean Francois Le Luherne and as a sous chef for two star Michelin Chef Hélène Darroze. Crediting Chef Jean Francois Le Luherne as a mentor, he has always carried with him an important lesson taught to him and that is to always respect the food.

I deconstruct dishes and reconstruct them using spices, herbs, mild or maybe heavy and sometimes working with what I have. I think Caribbean cuisine is not really the food but it is how you cook it. Through my experience and having being trained in classical French and modern English, I can find the perfect balance in dishes.

Masterfully crafted, he has managed to re-create his humble home cuisine and through his world class training delivered, exceptionally, sophisticated dishes worthy of an accolade. Despite his success and his mission for seeing people enjoy food he often faces frustration with the way Caribbean cuisine is viewed.

When we think about Caribbean food, it is annoying when I see people thinking of Caribbean food they think of takeaways or home cooking. We don’t think about going to the restaurant and enjoying Caribbean cuisine being used in a different way.

Set within a former pub, in a listed Victorian house, Chef Jason Howard held his first pop up culinary experience alongside the Kitchen Theory. Decadently furnished with low lighting, the House of Wolf, proved to be the perfect setting in what ended up to be lovely, intimate evening attended by 25 guests. With pre cocktail drinks and canapés served in an old antiqued mirrored bar room overlooking the upper bustling street of Islington, in fine dining we were treated to first class service, with hosts that catered to our every whim and need.

Exquisitely put together and with a pairing menu option, the 6 course meal divine in taste enthralled, tickled, tantalised, teased and satiated  taste buds. Satiated and honoured to have experienced such an  exceptional Caribbean culinary experience and evening, I ask Chef Jason Howard if Caribbean food can one day be eaten in Michelin star restaurants.

Caribbean cuisine can one day be recognised in Michelin restaurants. In the Caribbean we have a lot of exotic ingredients that we do not use and trying to get stuff for the pop up was difficult. If we can get good suppliers and good ingredients such as for example soursop, ackee, june plum, we have all types that can be used in different ways to season. People will pay for these unique tastes as it is something they have never tasted. To be successful we need the right way to deliver it somewhere, by bringing the Caribbean to the international scene and maybe somewhere bring the Caribbean and International in one fine dining setting. This needs work to get to that Michelin status. The food has a life, it has its own feet and it can walk. We just have to let it walk and stop bringing it down to takeaway level all the time. I don’t have a problem with takeaway, but the perception associated with takeaway as very hot, very spicy, heartburn, people just think jerk and Caribbean food can be more than jerk.

For more details on the next pop up by Chef Jason Howard, please follow him on Facebook for the latest updates.

Cover Image © courtsey of Chef Jason Howard

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