What is your background?
Grace: I’m Jamaican but I grew up in Toronto, and also lived for 7 years in Vancouver. Came back to Jamaica about 8 years ago.
I’m a journalist with more than 25 years experience. Worked in both Toronto and Vancouver. After returning here, I was the Lifestyle Editor of the Gleaner for 5 years. My portfolio included the popular Food section which I created.
I left the Gleaner last July and I’ve been teaching media courses at both Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville as well as at CARIMAC, University of the West Indies.
Where did the idea for Jamaican Eats come from?
Grace: I got the idea for the magazine a couple years ago. I noticed the emotional reaction people have to food and the enthusiastic response we always got to the interactive Food section.
In addition, Jamaica is a hot brand name in the global market today and the time seemed ripe for such a publication.
You are launching the magazine this month. What will readers find when they open the magazine?
Grace: It’s a magazine with a “lifestyle twist”, so readers will find, for example:
* A story on the “hijacking” of jerk
* A profile on the super popular BBC chef Ainsley Harriott
* A piece on DJs who travel with their chef to maintain their vegetarian lifestyle
* Recipes with how to tips
* Giveaways — the possibility to win a 7-night vacation at the luxurious Grand Lido Negril, and more…
* Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures
What is the main focus of the magazine?
Grace: The magazine is called Jamaican Eats so the central theme is about food. But food from different aspects — culture, personalities, etc.
What has been the greatest challenge so far in launching?
Grace: As with all start up publications, getting companies to advertise in a publication they haven’t seen has been an issue. However, now that they see it, advertising should be less of a challenge for the next issue.
Where would you say Jamaican food is today in the International Food Arena?
Grace: I think that except for jerk and maybe patty, that Jamaican food is still relatively unknown internationally. However, that is starting to change with the extreme popularity of Jamaica and hence its culture.
Across the world you see “Jerk” on menus everywhere. In many cases when you taste these foods it is nothing like Jamaican Jerk. Do you think the brand “Jamaican Jerk” is being misused?
Grace: Absolutely. And, as several people pointed out in the story on jerk that we have in the magazine, we are in danger of losing “jerk” as a Jamaican brand name. I mean, we learned about a company in Ohio that’s producing raspberry flavoured jerk!
There are some country specific foods that you recognize anywhere in the world. What Jamaican foods a part for Jerk do you see moving to that level?
Grace: Patties, perhaps. Of course our rum is pretty popular. Ingredients like scotch bonnet pepper. I’m sure there will be others.
Do you cook and what is your specialty?
Grace: I cook when I have the time. I make a wicked pumpkin soup.
If you alone on a desert island with a magic wand what 3 Jamaican dishes you must have?
1: Stew peas and rice.
2: Fried dumplings
3: These are not dishes but I would have to have mangoes (Julie, Bombay, Number 11) and fried ripe plantains