Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine in Oregon – An Interview with Co-owner Keacean Ransom

This week we have a conversation with Keacean Ransom co-owner of the Jamaican restaurant Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine in Oregon. She is originally from St. Mary, Jamaican. Keacean graduated from Mico Teachers College, University College of the Caribbean, and Central Connecticut State University. After graduating, she taught English for over 10 years. Keacean currently resides in the state of Oregon. She is a newly wed with two biological sons and three step sons. Her passions are cooking, reading, and spending time with family.

1. Where in Jamaica are you from? How did you end up living in Oregon?
I was born in Anotto Bay, St. Mary. I grew up in Islington. I tell my customers the same thing I’m telling you…It was God’s Devine plan for me to be here so I can provide them with some real grandma home cooked meal.

2. Tell us about Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine? How did you come up with the idea to start a Jamaican restaurant in Oregon?
Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine actually started from home. I was forced to cook all the time because Oregon had no Caribbean food at all. I also needed to make money and so I utilized my business degree by doing my market research. I’ve always owned my own business back home…even while teaching. I used to cook and deliver lunch to a nearby barber shops and hair salons. Then I moved into a food cart. I did everything by myself in that food cart for over a year and a half.. as a single mom. That’s where I met my husband. He was actually a customer…lol. Ironically, I’ve always said that I would open my own restaurant if I should ever migrated.

3. How long has Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine been around?
I officially started the food cart on August 29, 2014 but I was cooking and delivering food since June of that year.

4. What were you doing before you started the restaurant?
Well I taught for 10 years back home. I also was a small loan proprietor.

5. How has the community received the restaurant?
Wow! I’m still taken aback at the response. Everyone is so supportive. They love the food! We have been very busy at the restaurant, especially since Keisha’s blog went viral.

6. What are the favorite Jamaican foods in the restaurant?
The favorite foods are definitely oxtails and jerk chicken.

7. Are there many Jamaican in Oregon?
Not that many…but I saw quite a few who came out of the wood works when I opened the food cart and even more now that the restaurant is up and running.

8. Tell us about some of your Jamaican fusion recipes?
To be honest I want to keep it authentic. So far our menu is all Jamaican…no sugar added and no preservatives…lol. I want to keep it ‘real’.

9. Do you do any of the cooking in the restaurant?
Definitely! I’m the head, cook and ‘bakkle’ washer…dwl. I know good tasting food. My previous and existing customers are already spoiled with good tasting food. So I definitely have to keep it that way. Because I have a young one now…gave birth on
June 1st…I stay away as much as possible…but I still find time to supervise and ensure that the flavor remains the same.

10. What inspires you when you are in the kitchen?
The thought of pleasing my customers with great tasting authentic Jamaican food is my inspiration. Oregonians love food just as much as I do so when I hear a compliment of how great the food was…it becomes my driving force to ‘cook up a storm’.

11. What is your favorite Jamaican meal?
I love me some jerk chicken.

12. If you were on a desert island and you could have one food what would it be?
That’s a rhetorical question of course….it has to be jerk chicken lol.

13. A movie you never get tired of watching….
Baby Boy. I love Tyrese.

14. Growing your hero was…
I’m trying to figure that one out but it’s pretty hard. My hero was any female who demonstrated strong independent characteristics…

15. Thanks for your time. Any closing words?
Definitely. I’ve been through alot…I’ve got a story to tell one day…maybe in a book. But for those reading this article, the fact that you are still breathing means that God is not finished with you as yet. No matter how difficult a situation may appear as long as you have the spirit to move past it, you will. Just never give up…never stop praying…never stop fighting. And don’t be afraid to talk to someone or ask for help. Also know that starting over or starting from the bottom is not a crime. Just keep pushing no matter what…

Be sure to visit the Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine in Oregon facebook page