City Cafe

The Good Kind Of Jerk: Celebrating A Jamaican Culinary Tradition

Jerk chicken at Juci Jerk in Stone Mountain.
Jerk chicken at Juci Jerk in Stone Mountain.
Credit WABE/Dan Raby

For Jamaicans, jerk is no insult. It’s a culinary tradition stretching back centuries to the early days of British colonial rule on the island. And it’s one that can make both Caribbean natives and non-natives’ mouths water. 

“There were places in Jamaica that I used to go to that you’d remember it and you’d just close your eyes and think about how good it is,” said Donald Roberts, the chef behind Juci Jerk in Stone Mountain. 

Roberts is one of a number of jerk chefs who’ll be serving up the traditional cuisine at the Atlanta Jerk Festival, an annual day-long celebration of Caribbean culture, this Sunday. The festival will feature crafts and games from the region, a line up of Caribbean performers–including Alison Hinds and Freddie McGregor–and, of course, plenty of jerk.

Want to learn a little bit more about jerk’s place in Jamaican culture before the festival? Listen to Roberts talk about the history behind the cuisine, how he developed his rendition of jerk and hear about his plans to compete in the festival’s jerk cook-off, which will determine “Atlanta’s Top Jerk Chef.”

Broadcast version.

The Atlanta Caribbean Jerk Festival is taking place at Panthersville Stadium in DeKalb County this Sunday. 

WABE brings you the local stories and national news that you value and trust. Please make a gift today.Donate Now