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Bringing Big Flavor to Iowa: Authentic Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Giving the chef spotlight to Iowa Chef Anthony Green “Food is one of the most powerful ways to a person’s heart.”

That’s true for Chef Anthony Green, whose first kitchen training began at the apron of his uncle while growing up in Jamaica. His Uncle Beres taught him how to make authentic Jamaican jerk seasoning, a fresh marinade that flavors food with the unmistakably delicious flavor Jamaica is famous for. While there was no written recipe to pass down, the love of food and family provided an unbreakable bond in Anthony’s life, sending him on a trajectory that brought him to where he is today.

For 15 years, Anthony has been spreading his culinary knowledge and skills to others as a college chef instructor. He feels a deep sense of responsibility and love for his family in Jamaica and has dedicated his life to the ministry of food to honor them. Currently, Chef Green is instructing at Kirkwood College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He is also bringing big authentic flavor to this midwest city with his new venture, Chef Green & Co. Their product? Uncle Beres Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. I can attest, having visited Jamaica and fallen in love with jerk cuisine, that his seasoning is the real deal. I’ve had the honor of calling Chef Green and his family friends for many years, and I can tell you that his passion and love for food, family, and Caribbean cuisine is as authentic as you can get. I often joke with Chef that we need to have a cook-off and he tells me every time — in his very cool and laid back Jamaican accent — that he will crush me. Well my dear friend, if the challenge was to make jerk seasoning? You’d win hands down! But that would be my only disadvantage — well that and that awesome accent.

You heard it here first folks! We’ll keep ya posted! What is jerk seasoning? The word “jerk” started as a noun and then became a verb as in “jerking,” which meant to poke holes in the meat so the spices could permeate it. Jerk cooking experts say that the name jerk also could have come from the turning of the meat in the marinade, or from the way some folks will just jerk a strip from the roast on the BBQ.

Historically, jerk seasoning started in the hills of Jamaica by the Maroons (runaway slaves who escaped the plantations) who were building a life for themselves. They used what they had from the land, including wild boar, to sustain their families. Jerk refers to a way that a meat, vegetable or fruit is seasoned and cooked. The typical cooking style uses a marinade or paste that includes at least pimento, which is often called allspice, and scotch bonnet peppers. The meat is then marinated and slow smoked over pimento wood. Pimento is a Spanish word for pepper and early European explorers mistook this for black pepper, so they called it pimento.

A great jerk seasoning is magical — and Chef Green & Co’s Uncle Beres Jamaican Jerk Seasoning is just that. Uncle Beres Jamaican Jerk Seasoning is a blend of bright spices that embody the spirit of the Caribbean people, with notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice brought together with the warmth of scotch bonnet pepper. You can choose one of two flavors: •The Original, which has light heat and is full of island flavor. •The Spicy, which is also full of island flavor with a nice punch of scotch bonnet (on a scale of 1-10 of heat - it’s an 8). This is my favorite! At the moment, I’m the lucky one because you can only find Chef Green & Co.’s Uncle Beres Jamaican Jerk Seasoning at Iowa farmer markets and at Lion Bridge Brewing Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. But it’s so delicious that we just know it will be available to all one day and when it is you will hear about it first from us here!

For now, you can follow more of his story on his Facebook and Instagram pages and be sure to watch for the announcement of his new website, which will be live soon. Connecting through food is Chef Green’s mission, and at the end of the day, that is what we love the most.

Cheers to you Chef!

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