Jerk is the most popular way to prepare a dish in the Caribbean. The mixture of pimento, cayenne pepper, thyme, and other ingredients brings out a bold, undeniable flavor. A food festival dedicated to Jerk is on the horizon. The Florida Jerk Festival continues to grow and truly celebrates the rich culture and rapidly evolving culinary scene in South Florida. The Festival is just one more exciting thing that makes the Palm Beach County area a must-visit destination.
The Florida Jerk Festival will take place on Memorial Day, May 30th, from 3 pm-11 pm at the John Prince Park(2700 6th Ave S, Lake Worth Beach, FL 3346), the Florida Jerk Festival, rebranded from the Palm Beach Jerk Festival, welcomes guests, chefs, and anyone who loves Jerk-inspired dishes, for an event of food, family, and fun. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased at https://floridajerkfestival.com/
"The Florida Jerk festival is an event for the entire family.No school, No work, Nuff Jerk. Come for the food; stay for the fun. We are truly looking forward to this year's celebration, as we continue to highlight Jamaican Jerk cuisine's spirit and vibrant culture," states Damian Tater, CEO of Full-A -Vybez Ent, producers of the Florida Jerk Festival.
Over 15 restaurants from South and Central Florida will be providing tasty jerk dishes. In addition, attendees will have the chance to experience live music as a concert is a part of the festivities. People will be able to enjoy live performances from reggae artists Dig Dong, Destra Garcia, Fab 5, and Cham. "I am looking forward to just seeing the fans. We, as entertainers, don't get to perform in front of kids every day. So having the whole family there makes the Florida Jerk Festival special, "said Cham.
The momentum for the Florida Jerk festival is strong. The event made its return in 2021 after being postponed by Covid -19. Last year the Festival saw 10,000 people attending, and Reggae superstar Shaggy headlined the concert. Between the year off and the time leading up to this year's Festival, Tater and his team had the chance to take a step back and restrategize the annual event, "Covid gave us a chance to restart and refocus. My team and I were able to dissect where we are and where we need to be" said Tater. The results lead to several new additions like mixologist sampling powered by Duke and Dame, salty Carmel whisky brand, an updated interactive kids zone, food demonstration, a newly curated Jerk Cook-Off, a food demo, and updated Cabana service for those who wish to view the concert in comfort and style.
Tater wants to use the Festival to help restaurants that have struggled during the pandemic. Tater's first step is exposure. The Florida Jerk Festival will highlight these restaurants through their social media channels. In addition, the Festival will provide access for the restaurants to speak with the press. In the Jerk Experience, more attention will be on the chefs who make the food. One well-known chef making his return to the Festival is Donovan Thompson, owner of Kingston Delight. He has been a vendor for the Festival for over ten years. Finally, he is ready to serve his signature dishes to attendees. "As a chef, this Jerk festival forces you to be on point. You are serving 10-15 thousand hungry people. They are coming out here to eat," said Thompson.
Kingston Delight is in North Miami. What makes their food such a hit with the locals is how they jerk their dishes. This makes Thompson a tough competitor in the Jerk cook-off, "our spices make us on point. We blend Onions, thyme, tomatoes, and more to create buckets of our sauces. People know the name, they know the brand. They know Kingston Delight will be on point," said Thompson. The Kingston Delight owner is one of the many chefs ready to dazzle attendees at the Florida Jerk Festival. What has been assembled for this production aims to restore an experience that has been missing.
"The Florida Jerk Festival is the culture of Jamaica. It is made for people who can't be in Jamaica but want to soak up the food and the vibes," said Cham.
Photo Credit: David I Muir