Judy dishes out Jamaican foods overseas
As a child growing up in Jamaica, Judy got her first big break at 10 years old when her mother started allowing her to cook. Inspired by her mom's culinary masterpieces, she went on to study cooking in formal settings, finally becoming a chef and opening a total of three restaurants over the course of her 30-year career. Today, Judy's Island Grill is a haven for Caribbean food lovers in Baltimore, Maryland, and Toronto, Canada.
THE STAR caught up with the entrepreneur while she was carefully selecting products from the Caribbean Farmers Market at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in Washington, DC on Sunday. The Clarendon-born Judy, who has called the United States home for the past 37 years, said that she is determined to promote and maintain the Jamaican culture in whatever she does.
"We are very rich in culture, and our food and ways of cooking stand out in the world. It is always good to ensure that it is maintained and promoted properly. Our heritage is priceless, and this is evident at the restaurants, as we get customers from all walks of life," she said.
She continues to use fresh ingredients, hometown recipes, and extensive expertise and artistry to feed hungry guests at two Judy's Island Grill locations. The specialities include jerked chicken, jerked tilapia, and stewed oxtail all Caribbean classics that flourish with a balanced blend of traditional spices. Judy and her family also whip up a slew of new creations. These Jamaican-American fusion dishes include a Southern-inflected, slow-cooked MoBay jerked barbecue chicken sandwich along with a handful of island burritos.
Judy has now hopped over into the entertainment scene, as this September she will host the Carabana Food and Music Festival in Maryland. The event, which made its debut last year, will feature a live performance from Romain Virgo.
"Our second staging will feature a bigger venue and a live performance for the first time. Everyone likes Romain here, so we are expecting a full house. We will have lots of bars, and it will take on a beach scenery. We are really excited about it," she said.