DJ Raggington came to Kingston to pursue music
His love for food took hold instead
From the stoplight at the entrance to Jacks Hill, the sounds of reggae rhythms can be heard echoing from a speaker inside Barbican Jerk & Vegetarian Restaurant, and on any given day, customers may get a chance to hear the voice of a singer by the name of DJ Raggington belting out conscious tunes. He is the man that handles the pot of this popular roadside cookshop that has been growing over the past three years.
“Music is very important to have in my surrounding. Just this morning, the sounds of Ital Is Vital motivate me. Is like me want to call everybody to choose the ital stew off the menu today,” he said.
Anyone who ordered the ital stew yesterday, even as a side, would have made the right choice. It was rich in coconut milk, not salty, and the pumpkin, red peas, carrot, Irish potato and sweet potato were cooked to a palatable texture, and the flavours soaked right through each vegetable.
DJ Raggington is affectionately called ‘Raggy’ by friends and repeat customers. He came to town from southern Jamaica to pursue a musical career and ended up cooking, he said.
“Growing up with my father and granny, I was a fat child and would always be in the kitchen. I would watch her cook and say, but mama, how yuh nuh eat chicken but yuh cook it, and it taste suh good. She always said that you must be able to taste with your nose and know what a pot needs,” Raggy shared. “At 11 years old, I had a stepfather who owned a cookshop and there I was introduced to the business, from deh suh me a run cookshop.”
Although in Barbican it is known for the best ital stew, the menu is diverse, serving fried and homestyle chicken daily, curried goat and jerk dishes. However, a few minutes standing by the window proved that the seasoned ackee and steamed callaloo were next on the list as favourites whether customers were meat-eaters, vegetarian or vegan.
“On some days, I may not have ground provisions [but] all it takes is a phone call. I will prepare it if the customers don’t want rice. We haven’t done jerk in a while; I also used to prepare a ‘sip’, but everybody have to eat, so I leave the pot at the front, and the people at the front take charge of that; customers can get everything right at this cul-de-sac. On a Friday, we like to invite persons to show their talent, plug in the microphone into the speaker and let them sing a tune,” Raggy said.
Raggy promotes clean living, and this is one of the reasons the ital stew is one of the first to be finished each day. He also has a song called Rasta Man Ting that speaks about the benefits of vegetarian food, although he admits that he will consume chicken every now and again for his dietary needs.
Pre-pandemic, Barbican Jerk & Vegetarian Restaurant would usually open at 3 a.m. for breakfast. Now people may start making orders by 9 a.m. until the evening. Fish is done to order.
Barbican Jerk & Vgetarian Restaurant is located at 83 Barbican Road, Kingston 6. They may be reached at (876) 845-9087.