Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Kareema Brown makes flavour her business with Kareema’s Kitchen

Published:Thursday | January 25, 2024 | 12:11 AMKrysta Anderson/Staff Reporter
Chef Brown serves up curried coconut chick peas, with oatmeal dumplings.
Chef Brown serves up curried coconut chick peas, with oatmeal dumplings.
Say hello to this tasty barbecued chicken with mashed potatoes, served with steamed vegetables.
Say hello to this tasty barbecued chicken with mashed potatoes, served with steamed vegetables.
This jerked chicken platter included the star of the show, the jerked chicken with rice and peas and steamed vegetables on the side.
This jerked chicken platter included the star of the show, the jerked chicken with rice and peas and steamed vegetables on the side.
If you’re a fan of the healthy life, then you will love this lemon peppered salmon salad.
If you’re a fan of the healthy life, then you will love this lemon peppered salmon salad.
Orange glazed chicken is paired with rice and peas and a tossed salad.
Orange glazed chicken is paired with rice and peas and a tossed salad.
Stewed pork and rice and peas, with a tossed salad and fried plantains.
Stewed pork and rice and peas, with a tossed salad and fried plantains.
Chef Kareema Brown has found a home in her kitchen. Now she invites others to savour the unique flavours of her signature dishes.
Chef Kareema Brown has found a home in her kitchen. Now she invites others to savour the unique flavours of her signature dishes.
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When Kareema Brown enrolled at the University College of the Commonwealth Caribbean, her goal was to pursue her degree in business. But for some reason, she couldn’t find her footing in that world. With encouragement from her brother, she switched plans to a career that no one saw coming. These days, Brown has made the flavour of spices her business with Kareema’s Kitchen.

The private chef tells Food: “I’ve always been passionate about food because I grew up with Rastafarians. And it has always been a thing for me. But it was not something that I thought I would pursue. Because I am big on spices, I make my own curry with Jamaican and Indian spices. My curried goat is always well received. And my curried chickpeas dish is a hit because I don’t eat meat. I love cooking oxtail in wine or sorrel beer so it has a different flavour,” she told Food.

She went on to explain that her jerk chicken also resonated with the appetites of many because she makes her own signature jerk sauce. The chef attributes her spices to her ‘Ital’ background. “Growing up, I always saw my grandparents making spices, so the parts of the onion that would normally be thrown away, I saw them dry, grind, and mix up those parts with pimento and pimento leaves. So that’s the uniqueness of Kareema’s Kitchen,” she added.

After college, she signed up for the hospitality training programme at Sandals. And she was pleasantly surprised by the announcement that she was the valedictorian for her graduating class.

“When I started training, I was 30 years old - the oldest person in the class. Nobody thought that I was 30. And I was afraid at first to [train], but once I started training, that was it. I am extremely grateful for this experience.”

Brown moved on to working at Sandals Resorts, Bahia Principe, and a host of others before the global pandemic hit. She decided to branch out on her own in 2021.

Since then, she has been serving her good taste on a plate for all to savour, “When I started Kareema’s Kitchen, I did not have anything more than the pots that you regularly have in your kitchen. I was just cooking. I had a friend who had tourists coming to Jamaica at the time, and that’s when my business really kicked off. When they came and ate my food, they would go back and tell others until everybody returned for more.”

Located in Ocho Rios, St Ann, persons have enjoyed the authentic atmosphere that Chef Brown provides once they sit in her kitchen. Sometimes there are bus loads of persons who can’t wait to indulge in those dishes.

“I’m invested in seasonings and Jamaican spices. That’s the major part of food. And the genuine love that is placed in each meal, you won’t find that experience anywhere else. I want you to taste and feel the love in the food,” she said.

The flavour specialist is also a big fan of bringing a new side to the table, “take white rice, for instance. It shouldn’t just be white rice. I will put some lemon grass in there with coconut milk and share some lemon grass rice with curried goat, and it’s absolutely amazing. I’ll cook pineapple coconut rice and serve it alongside some spicy salmon. I love creating different flavours.”

Opening her kitchen from home has even afforded the opportunity to engage in private catering. She has a client in Barbados who flew her out on an all-expense paid trip to cook for them. They are planning to come to Jamaica for her to prepare meals for them as well.

“I think food is our love language – a universal love language. We don’t have to speak the same language as long as the food is good, it speaks to people’s hearts. And I just love people’s reaction when they’re eating good food.”

Cooking by the mantra, food with a twist, Chef Brown plans to release her new cookbook, which dives right into making juices, teas, and healing in that creative process, in the near future.

It is her hope to one day find a space for Kareema’s Kitchen so that she can spread the joy of good food. Until then, she invites everyone into her kitchen and provides delivery for those who are close by.

“My top dishes to cook and eat are curried chicken and white rice, orange glazed salmon with pineapple rice, Lasco jack mackerel and fried green plantain, chocolate tea and fried dumplings with some ackee, and salt fish and a good mixed-bean stew,” she added.

Kareema’s Kitchen is on Instagram, @kareemaskitchenja.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com