Jamaican Opal Rowe was on a mission to make gourmet patties a favorite choice among diners in Toronto, Canada. A self-taught patty maker, Rowe is the founder of Stush Patties, a gourmet patty company that makes patties of many varieties, ranging from the classic beef patty to those filled with curried shrimp, jerk chicken, lentils, Swiss chard, and salted tofu.
Originally, from Kingston, Rowe attended Wolmer’s Girls School, and has lived in Canada for some 20 years. Before starting Stush, she operated a home care agency called “Nowhere Like Home.” Her greatest challenge in starting her patty company was that she had no idea about how to make patties. “My family and friends would say I am an excellent cook and I bake well, but I rarely bake. I didn’t even own a mixer when I started and the first time I used a mixer was in a commercial bakery. I recalled the owner showing me around saying, it’s just like the one at home, and I chuckled to myself, knowing I didn’t have one and had never used one.” A self-taught patty maker, Rowe “wanted to understand the various aspects of pastry so I could develop my own recipe, so I taught myself about the different types of pastries, learned about dough and how sensitive they are; I also learned about the different types of fats and flour.”
Rowe began her patty company with an “intense desire and passion,” inspired to make gourmet patties after reading about Patties Express, which she loves for a quick meal, but she wanted something more. When she had a craving for a Jamaica patty – “something warm, delicious and somewhat healthy, to enjoy with a glass of wine” – none of the available patties were appealing. What she wanted, as she shared in an interview with blogTO, was “something that would feel like a satisfying meal and not a greasy snack, but I couldn’t find one. So, I made one.” She notes that the Jamaican patty is one of the “most iconic snack foods of all time,” but it wasn’t getting the same kind of premium treatment that other snack foods enjoyed.
Now, with Stush – her company’s name is a Jamaican patois term that means “proper” or good” – Rowe is transforming the humble patty into a premium product featuring flaky golden pastry stuffed with premium ingredients like grass-fed ground chuck and local farm-to-table Swiss chard. While other patty makers may use frozen vegetables for their veggie patties, Rowe ensures that her brand uses high-quality vegan ingredients, and rather than use the traditional beef lard, Rowe uses vegetable fat to make her pastry and offers two vegan fillings: jerk soy chicken and veggie lentil.
Rowe began her business just before the COVID-19 lockdowns hit Canada, and in spite of the challenging times, Stush still managed at times to deliver 50 dozen patties to weddings and parties. By the beginning of 2021, she began selling her patties wholesale to cafes and grocery stores. Currently, Stush supplies businesses in six cities at 30 locations, and the list continues to grow. Diners can also find Rowe’s gourmet patties at pop-ups across Toronto, chiefly in bars and breweries. While she sells primarily to other businesses now, individuals can still buy the patties in build directly from Stush. A minimum order totals $144, with six packs of patties ranging from $18 to $30.