George Walker, host of WGVU’s Cultural Ingredients, a TV show that explores stories of migration, culture and agricultural history one person, one dish and one ingredient at a time. For this podcast, he talks to chefs about simple cooking and kitchen management during the pandemic.
You're listening to shaping narratives a collection of voices from West Michigan's communities of color brought to you by WGVU NPR and PBS in West Michigan in the partnership with the W.K Kellogg Foundation. The voice of this podcast is George Walker The third. Host of WGVU’s, Cultural Ingredients. It's a TV show that explores stories of migration culture and agricultural history, one person, one dish, and one ingredient at a time. He's a sommelier and a small business owner and for this podcast, he talks to chefs about simple cooking and kitchen management during the pandemic.
So cooking at home isn’t easy and if you find yourself, uh, that your carrots, keep going bad, and you never have enough eggs or beef. Don't worry. I had to go to school for this. It's not easy when everything counts. So I'm talking with chef Vince owner and operator Irie kitchen, uh, about making the most of the groceries. So what's your opinion on this Chef?
Yeah, it's, it's super important. You know, we, we living in special times right now and, you know, fruit and veggies and raw products are so special. You know, I look at it as like a canvas and now you're getting really cool oil paintings. Uh, at night you get to draw your plate and that what you want.
Oh, wow. That's, that's amazing. So how long have you been talking to yourself?
Man. I've been cooking since I've been a little kid, man, as early as I can remember, probably around six or seven. Food in my household is the foundation. If someone's always cooking at all times of the day, right on man.
Right on. So how did you find yourself becoming one of the youngest owners and operators of a restaurant in Grand Rapids?
You know, people talk about dreams. You know, I've always been a big dreamer. And so since I've probably been seven or eight years old, I told everybody I was going to open a restaurant, uh, that I, and I was an open it up by 20. No, but kind, yeah. Life has a funny way of working.
Right on. So did you always know that you wanted to open a Jamaican restaurant and what inspired that?
And the restaurant came later and wasn't inspired. It was growing up. I saw how many people used to come to my family's house just for goodies, right. Or, uh, anything we're grilling, anything we're making. And my pops and I had a conversation right before we opened the restaurant and we kind of both decided I'd be doing food from our culture in West Michigan, just because there isn’t a presence here.
Wow. That's amazing. So, I mean, coming from, your parents are from Jamaica, is that correct? Correct. Yep.
So I mean, how, how was it growing up in a household? Um, that wasn't necessarily from America, but still having to go to school with. Basically Americans, if you will, and adapting to the culture, not only at school, but then adapting to the culture at home. Yeah. Uh it's too. It's very interesting. Right? Definitely inside my house. It was little Jamaica and solid Jamaica rules, lingo cultures. And then as soon as you open that door, then you're out in the regular world, quote on quote. Right? So now we're in America. And so for me and my sister, I think we learned how to adapt and learn how to make friends and w\then, how to connect with people. Um, I always make a joke as much as I'm Bob Marley. I'm also Jay Z, you know, so it's, it's cool. Now, when you get older too, you have such a Multi, um, like a multi country, globalization kind of mindset, you know, is different.
Right on that's yeah, that's brilliant. So how did that, how did that translate to, Hmm. Um, what, what's the food like? Um, uh, when you fuse kind of like the American influence with, uh, kinda like Jamaican influence.
You know, they always say like the home cook and always like knock out better meal than the chef. Right. And so, uh, you know, my pasta class will be changed Chef. One thing that home cooks know how to do is know how to use flavors. Right. And so I think just being in that environment, I learned how to cook, you know, I've been Jamaican. In my house. I learned how to cook and then being out in the world in America, I learned how to try to dream and be different. Cause like kind of like what America is all about. So again, it's just kind of my culture and my surroundings. They kind of really built the way I cook when I think about food and like the whole thing
Right on. Wow. So where, where exactly are your parents from in Jamaica?
Yeah, my dad's from Ocho Rios and my mom's from St. Catherine so Ocho Rios is definitely more middle water and St. Catherine's definitely more near Lake farmland.
Wow. So I can imagine that the ingredients and the, the dishes that they make be a little bit different, are they?
Yeah, man, like, so, you know, everyone has a billion ways to make Curry in Jamaica, but in different regions, different things you focused on. Right. So pops definitely. Eats lot of seafood. There's a lot, lot just because you're so close to a wire and go walk down and go fishing and whatnot. You know, my mom definitely grew up near water as well, and they ate fish as well, but you know, they're definitely around the goats and chickens and the rice and a lot of like vegetables and all those kinds of things. So it's interesting to see how they both approach food from the same culture differently.
Wow. That's amazing. So if you could let us know what would be one of the easiest dishes that we could make at home, um, that we can find ingredients at our local grocery stores and get a little taste of Jamaica.
You know, I'll go to the classic jerk chicken, right. And I think you can find either a dry jerk, seasoning, or a wet, a dry season like walkers would or something like that. Um, At, at any store, um, just put that on there. You know, a little soy sauce, aloe, you're able to do garlic, you can bake, you can, uh, you can cook on a tan, you can do anything you want and basically you get jerk chicken.
Um, I think definitely one of the easiest dishes, um, and you're leaning toward vegan or just maybe a side dish. I would go rice and peas, which is just rice, a little coconut milk. Your choice of beans. We like to use kidney beans and get yourself a nice bowl of rice. I had to go on like, like again, like for some vegan, I'll definitely lean towards a chickpea, which would be super simple.
You can chick peas take, you know, a half a cup of your favorite Curry powder, uh, cook down, um, of the amazing.
Wow. Well, thank you so much. So just made me so hungry, right? That's exactly what I'm going to cook this weekend. So thank you so much, Vince. I really appreciate your time. And we'll talk with you soon
Yeah thank you.
Shaping Narratives a collection of voices from West Michigan's communities of color is brought to you in partnership with the W.K Kellogg Foundation, a partner with communities where children come first. Want to hear more Shaping Narratives episodes download and subscribe at WGVU dot org or wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and subscribe if you get a chance, it helps us to know you're listening. Shaping Narratives is produced by WGVU PBS and NPR in West Michigan through the facilities of the Meijer public broadcast center in the service of Grand Valley State University. Matt Gruppen processed all the audio, Joe Bielecki edits each episode, Vance Orr designed our graphics and manages our Web presence, Phil Lanes is our director of content. The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the hosts and their guests and do not necessarily reflect those of WGVU or Grand Valley State University.