Jamaican chef’s movable feast


Jordan Hom

Bertram Grant

Chef Bertram Grant is from Orange Bay, in Hanover, Jamaica. With a contagious, mellow vibe, he can make anyone happy, especially with his food. His catch phrase is “It’s all good” and it really is. He owns a small food shack and his food is amazing. His smile draws you in, and his food keeps you around. His food cart can be found in various locations around the county.

Q: What got you into cooking?
A: When I was small I saw my dad do the barbeques for everybody, for friends, so I was trying to follow in his footsteps.

Q: What do you miss about the taste of home?
A: The biggest thing is all the seasoning, which is different from the seasoning here. I have to adjust to here. Our seasoning is stronger and it has more flavors to it.  I maybe start with salt and pepper.

Q: What do you most like to cook and where do you get those recipes?
A: I do like Jerk chicken . Everything I do is homemade. I use my own recipes.  When I was younger and going to school I started to create my own recipes, which I used when I went to my first job. Then I was a supervisor and I took in my own seasonings, my own recipes. I went from that to being a sous chef before coming to America in  2000. Probably the food I like doing the most is tropical food.  I try to cook for everybody, try to do gluten-free food, and of course I do vegetarian food. I cook pasta, I cook Italian food, I cook Chinese food. You name it, I cook it, and besides Jamaican, I don’t really have a specialty, and I don’t really have a favorite meal to cook because all meals to me are my favorites. I can do a lot of things, I can bake bread, buns, cake. I can work in every position in a kitchen.

Q: What is your favorite restaurant and why?
A: My favorite restaurant has to be Kwiah Island in South Carolina. I worked there as head of the kitchen for a few years. I had my own buffet with my own cooking. It’s a nice place where you’d see a lot of movie stars and a lot of my Jamaican friends there too. We’re at the beach. My buffet stuff is around the pools, so you can see the ocean pool and can have music all year. In Vermont, my favorite kitchen up here is Stowe Mountain Resort.

Q: Is there anything annoying about the current restaurant scene in Vermont?
A: No not really. What I try to do is visit different restaurants and have a meal and have a drink

Q: Do you have any advice for anybody getting into the restaurant business?
A: Yes. The restaurant business is very tricky. People will tell you all sorts of different things, but I say just take your time. Just start small and continue to build yourself up. When I started, I had two chickens, some cabbage, some corn, some rice. Now I have a cart, a truck and I do weddings, I do parties, and I DJ. The only time I have problems is if it rains. That’s why I am trying to find a restaurant to move in to. I need to find a nice spot where people can enjoy the food and enjoy the sounds of the music.

Q: Do you remember the first meal you ever cooked?
A: Yes I do. The first meal I ever cooked was for staff [where I worked]. It was beef stew.

Q: What plans do you have for next year?
A: Next year I am going to try to do as many events as possible. My menu is going to be extended because I now have a food truck. I’m going to have lots of vegetarian food,  I am going to have lots of Caribbean food. And Jamaican pastries for next year too.

Q: What’s the one meal that you’ve always wanted to cook?
A: I’ve always wanted to cook jerk chicken.

Q: What is the hardest meal for you to cook?
A: Everything is easy to cook for me. It’s all about the time you put into it. You can’t rush it. You just have to relax and be easy-going. If you do that, nothing is hard to cook.