Jamaican Entrepreneur Taking Jerk Cuisine to the UK


A Jamaican entrepreneur in London is seeking to spread the island’s authentic cuisine across the United Kingdom (UK), through a series of jerk festivals, the first of which was held earlier this year.
Founder of Jewel Isle Rum Punch, Anita Witter, said the idea stemmed from her own experience of feeling homesick and longing for authentic Jamaican food and culture.
“I came back from a visit to Jamaica and immediately began to feel homesick. It was a good visit and in fact, my daughter did not want to come back. I was talking to my friend, who used to run a restaurant, and she wanted to do a traditional Jamaican fish fry event. So we put our heads together and went for a bigger vision… and that was the North London Jerk Festival and Fish Fry,” she informed.
The event, held on May 24 at the Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham attracted hundreds of patrons. The organisers sought to raise funds to support the Mustard Seed Charity. With the success of the first festival, Mrs. Witter has her sights set on other cities for next summer.
She informed that organising the first event took six weeks and although the process required a lot of hard work, “it was not really difficult for us because of our individual skills and different strengths. I am good at organising and managing events, while my friend was good at marketing, promotion and advertising.”
According to Mrs. Witter, the festivals will give Jamaicans in the UK and people of other nationalities, a taste of the island.
She admitted that while the project is ambitious, Jamaicans have responded to the concept, with strong interest from Bristol and Leeds for similar festivals next year.
In addition to the food festival, Mrs. Witter is developing an idea for the celebration of Jamaican culture in the UK, including a games day featuring cricket, dominoes, ludo and other board games, which are popular in Jamaica.

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