One Love: The Jerk House’s Tribute to Fine Jamaican Cuisine and Culture
Here at TVK Supermarket we recently launched a range of sauces and marinades from The Jerk House, an amazing brand that brings the flavours of Jamaica alive! We were so excited to bring these delicious sauces into our range that we just had to speak with Dr Carlton Brown, the owner of Marshall & Brown, which produces The Jerk House and more fine Jamaican ranges.
Keep reading to find out more about The Jerk House, Jamaican cuisine, the history of Jerk seasoning and more!
Where did the inspiration for The Jerk House Sauces come from?
The inspiration behind Marshall & Brown came from my mother, who is 97, and my mother-in-law. The company is named after these two wonderful matriarchs – Olive Brown and Eugenia Marshall – who were both born on the beautiful island of Jamaica. They were both amazing cooks and on Sundays, one of our family traditions was to have a dish that had been marinated or seasoned with Jerk seasoning. I very much grew up around food, family, friends, music, fun and the rich heritage of Jamaican culture. Whilst on holiday in Jamaica four years ago, I got thinking about my heritage and how I could pay homage to both my mum and my mother-in-law.
The common thread was food – Jamaica is a hotbed of interesting and wonderful flavours and spices, with a rich and diverse heritage. One of the most famous traditions within Jamaica is to jerk, and as both my mum and mother-in-law were passionate cooks, it became the obvious choice. I wanted to bring something contemporary to the market.
I wanted to create brands that were quintessentially Jamaican, that represented both these amazing women in a positive light, all within a contemporary setting. I wanted to develop products that were authentic and premium. But most importantly I wanted to build something that my mum and mother-in-law would be proud of, and that would continue their legacy of good food, family and friends every time someone uses a Jerk House marinade or pepper sauce.
Also, it was important to me to support to the local farming community, who grow the ingredients used in the marinades and sauces. There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve helped the local economy, even in a small way! Fresh produce, blended to create wonderful flavours, to enhance an authentic Jamaican experience – it’s a win-win for everyone.
Many people in the UK have heard of jerk seasoning, though they may not know exactly what it is – can you tell us a bit more about why jerk flavouring such an important part of Jamaican cuisine, and what makes your sauces in particular so special?
The word ‘jerk’, according to historians, was derived from a Spanish word that originally came from the Peruvian word ‘charqui’. This was the word for dried strips of meat, like what we’d call jerky in much of the world today. During the 1700s The Maroons hid in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica in an effort to evade the British army. With food in short supply, they learned how to use salt, peppers and spices to preserve meat and other foods. They would spice the food and wrap it in leaves to keep. When it came time to cook they just placed everything on top of hot rocks, then covered it, or barbecued the food over a lattice, or slow-cooked over pimento wood.
Jerk seasoning was originally used on meat, but in modern recipes, it is used with other many ingredients like tofu, bean burgers and vegetables. Jerk seasoning is the perfect reflection of the Jamaican lifestyle – spicy, sweet, charismatic and hot! Jerk marinade is famous for its pungent aromatic marinade, its both spicy and sweet flavour. Its ingredients included pimento, fresh thyme, black pepper, ginger, garlic salt, Scotch Bonnet peppers and more – it’s a captivating taste like no other!
What values are most important to you when manufacturing your sauces?
Here at Marshall and Brown we want customers to have an authentic experience, that is truly reflective of the providence of Jamaica. It’s important to us that we produce products that taste great, look great and are truly representative of our culture. When sourcing the ingredients we use, we prefer to use smaller producers and local products where possible, since this helps the local community but also ensures you get a better quality product. We strive to create an environment where consumers have a real choice in where they and whom they buy their products. Today consumers appreciate artisan brands that are well made, authentic and have great values that underpin them.
What has been the biggest challenge The Jerk House has faced so far? What about the biggest achievement?
The biggest achievement has been that my I have made my mother and family very proud. When we cook at home we are using our brands and we understand their providence and importance in building a brand that is both authentic and premium. Secondly, we are extremely proud of the reviews and feedback that we receive consistently since the launch from our customers, we are consistently rated very highly and our customers are already a very loyal and growing foodie fan-base. We appreciate and value that as our overriding mission, is for the customer to have an authentic gastronomic experience.
The biggest challenge has been gaining access to a very competitive and homogenised marketplace, where the larger marketing budgets get visibility regardless of the innovation, quality or authenticity. Every day there are lots of different companies offering different foods from around the world and buyers are inundated with request and it’s very difficult to be heard through the crowd. Having said that it is great that companies like TheVeganKind are seeking out contemporary, authentic brands that are aligned to their brand values – we are proud to be a part of the TVK family!
If you had to pick a favourite sauce of yours, which would it be, and why do you love it so much?
Without hesitation the Jerk seasoning from The Jerk House is my absolute favourite! My wife has created a Vegan Bean Burger, which we’d love to have on TVK shelves – they’re really amazing. Having said that the Jerk Mustard and the Red Pepper Sauce are close seconds! The flavours are great, whilst they are spicy they are still flavoursome rather than overpowering, and will enhance the flavour of any dish.
How has the pandemic affected The Jerk House, and do you have any new products or exciting milestones coming up as life starts to return to normal?
The pandemic has definitely affected The Jerk House, like many other businesses. We had to think strategically about how we can engage our audience better, through social media for example, but also via our partnerships and our website, which we’re looking to overhaul. During lockdown we’ve seen a surge in online sales, which is very positive, but our interaction with brick and mortar retailers has slowed down as some of them have been closed.
What we have been able to do in the interim period is finalise additions to our portfolio, which is very exciting! At Marshall & Brown we consider ourselves the purveyors of fine Jamaican fayre – our focus is always about quality products, authenticity and premiumisation of what we offer. We have introduced delicious Rum Truffles, with a vegan option available, and we truly believe that we have excelled with our chocolates. They are sensationally soft and moist, and are blended with deluxe Jamaican rum. The chocolates are made by an award-winning master chocolatier in the UK.
Blue Mountain coffee is considered one of the finest coffees in the world, so here at Marshall & Brown we’re excited to be launching our very own version of this single-origin, single-estate coffee blend. This most sought after coffee is perfect for coffee connoisseurs! We are also launching a range of 8 natural infusion teas, such as Peppermint, Lemon & Ginger, Turmeric, Moringa, and finally we are launching a range of vegan, gluten-free chutneys under our Calypso brand, based on tropical flavours that look and taste amazing and make a great staple in any cupboard.
The island of Jamaica is famous for its beautiful beaches, reggae music, Blue Mountain coffee, exotic fruits, and its cheerful people with their beautiful tropical landscape. But you haven't truly tasted Jamaica until you've tried Marshall & Brown quintessential Jamaican fine fayre.
Visit @mamabrownsfayre on Instagram to find out more about The Jerk House sauces and marinades!
- Gabriella Rodriguez