Thu | Nov 23, 2017

The Ital cooking of Johnny Ras

Published:Thursday | September 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMRasbert Turner
A dish of frie fish, rice and peas, ackee medley, veggie chunks, steamed callaloo and Irish potato.
Brenton 'Johnny Ras' Campbell with a one of his ital dishes and natural juices.
An 'ital' dish of steamed callaloo with rice and peas.
Fried fish with rice and peas and seasonal vegetables.
Ackee medley, veggie chunks, steamed callaloo, with rice and peas, boiled dumpling and ground provisions.
Veggie stew with rice and peas and vegetables.
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St Catherine resident Brenton 'Johnny Ras' Campbell knows the secret to good ital cooking.

"Yes, mi boss. Is a callaloo mi waiting on before mi go back on the road," taxi driver Michael Tinglin told Food excitedly as he awaited his order.

When Food visited the Gutters community, near Old Harbour, recently, Campbell was busy catering to the needs of his customers. Ital stew, steamed callaloo, ackee, vegetable chunks and fried fish on a bed of various vegetables were ready to be devoured.

The dishes are prepared by Campbell on an open flame on the coal stove at his humble but well-appointed kitchen.

The dishes are served with cool spurlina, pumpkin seed, June plum and other natural juices. "I believe in proper preparation of these dishes. I mostly deal with vegetables, beans, veggie chunks, and fish. I am pleased to serve my customers fresh meals each day, and I look forward to it," Johnny Ras told Food.

He revealed that food preparation has been a way of life for him for a long time, as he started cooking in 1990. Along the way, he has forged many friendship, which, he says, has kept him focused on the job at hand.

"Persons are willing to travel long distances to get a meal without powder seasoning. I feel it's my duty to please them with natural foods and drinks," Campbell shared.

The Rastafarian told Food that while many eateries serve a lot of rice and peas, he incorporates ground provisions in his dishes. "My customers want sweet potato, yam, banana, cassava, cornmeal and things like that. My customers come first, so I have to make them comfortable with the service here," Campbell said.