Tulsa BBQ meets the “Stuttering Chef” in Jamaica

By on October 26, 2017

My name is Adam Green and I am the owner-operator of Mac’s Barbeque in Skiatook, Oklahoma. I’m writing to you today about a trip I recently took to Jamaica with my wife, which ended up being an incredible culinary and cooking experience. Now, I want to strongly warn all of you ahead of time: my writing chops are non-existent. But, on a recent trip to Ocho Rios, Jamaica for vacation I posted a picture of a myself and a chef dude I seriously considered my Jamaican twin brother. Then, Mitch Dees, Publisher of TulsaFood, saw it and text me, saying I should write about it. So, I am writing this in my own words, and that ain’t sayin’ much. I tend to ramble in regular conversation, so this should be awesome, right? I’m a BBQ dude not a writer……but, ah hell – here it goes.

I was in Ochos Rios, Jamaica for a vacation with Holly (my super lucky wife) and we stayed at this awesome little resort called Hermosa Cove, owned by Deb and Clayton Korver. If you ever get the opportunity, you should stay here and hope to meet these owners who are actually from here in the Midwest. The resort has 11 or so villas spread out along the small property, and the villa we stayed at (pictured above) is called “The Calalloo House”. Calalloo is a popular Caribbean dish that originated in west Africa. It’s really common around Jamaica and reminds me of a mix between collard greens and broccoli.

OK, I will now tell you of how I met my Jamaican twin brother, Conroy.

The resort has one restaurant called Christopher’s, and a small bar and grill style place called The Broken Rudder. Chef Conroy Novak Arnold (nicknamed The Stuttering Chef) runs the show at both places. It turns out we not only speak the same language of food, look like brothers, and act like long lost brothers, but he is as talented a chef as I’ve ever met.
And, the man is doing things with open pit smoking and grilling that blew me away.

Whenever Holly and I travel, we always make food a central part of the adventure as we try local places and regional foods. The first place on my list to try was Scotchies. They are famous for their jerked chicken and pork. We hopped in our cab, and our driver, Dalton, drove us out to our destination and graciously showed us the ropes.

When we got out of the cab and walked up the counter to order, I looked at Holly and said “HOLY SHIT, they’re smoking everything on open pits!”
It was amazing! They had built these rectangular pits out of cinder blocks, built a fire inside the pit and laid large Pimento logs over the fire. Here’s how it works: They lay the pork and chickens directly on the logs, cover it all with large sheets of barn tin, and then place cinder blocks on top of the tin to hold it down. I looked over at the cut stations, and they were just like you would find at Mac’s or Burn Co. here in Tulsa. We were home even though we were away.

Totally satisfied, on the drive back to our villa I started noticing that along the roadside there were random pits and barrel style smokers all over the place. I asked Conroy about it later and he told me that Jamaica has an extensive history of smoking meats, and its mostly done with Pimento wood. I pointed out to him that I noticed random pits and grills set up around the property. Conroy said the owners, Deb and Clayton, (being from the Midwest in the US) suggested he incorporate a Midwestern American influenced style of food into his menu. He indulged them, experimented, innovated, and his interest grew from there. Then, here on this sandy coast, the history of BBQ from Jamaica to the US would come full circle. Amazing.

Talking to Conroy reminded me of every single restaurant owner in Oklahoma that I have met. This dude is just doing his own thing – doing what he knows and loves about cooking in and running his restaurants. He’s curing his own bacon, making his own sausages, smoking some kick ass spare ribs, and putting an American BBQ spin on Jamaican cuisine.

The next day Conray talked to me about his Range Rover that he is converting to a mobile kitchen so he can do more events and catering. Here is what struck me in that moment: These are the exact same kinds of conversations I have with my best friend Chris West, owner of Lassalle’s New Orleans Deli, all the time.

It’s just proof that flavors and techniques may be regional, but food itself is a universal language.

Meeting Conroy and discussing food with him was a total blast, and we will be staying in touch. In fact, I am sure we will do something together with food somehow, someday…More details on that to come when it all comes together.
I leave you with this picture below of the first rib dish that Chef Conroy, The Stuttering Chef, plated up for me.
Now, don’t you want to go eat some Jamaican BBQ? Hell yeah, you do.

*Read and see more about Caribbean cooking from Tulsa’s Chef/Owner of Sisserou’s Caribbean Restaurant here: The Secrets and History of Jerked Meats.


Bonus Pics!!

Adam Green

About Adam Green