Foottree Restaurant, London
MasterChef UK "The Professionals"
In our latest installment of Yes Chef! we speak with Chef Jason Howard of Barbados. Since arriving in the UK, Chef Howard has transformed Caribbean food from the street to fine dining. As the head chef at The Froottree restaurant in London, he promises “…. you’ll see great things and Caribbean food never seen and tasted before, but still embodying the Caribbean flavours and history.”
Since his appearance on “MasterChef: The Professionals (UK)”, Chef Howard has grown in popularity in 2015 with over 53, 000 followers on Instagram. See our previous post for highlights from “MasterChef: The Professionals (UK)”.
EAT The Caribbean: You are originally from Barbados. Tell us a little about your life there? Did you know at a young age that you wanted to be a chef?
Chef Jason Howard: Really to be honest, I never wanted to be a chef. I had a job as a porter and that was fine with me, but I realised I had a liking and was really good at it. My dad always wanted to be a chef so I guess I am living his life after he invested so much time in me.
ETC: You are currently residing in London. What made you move there?
JH: I lost my house to fire in 2009. I made the move to London where I was very humbled and thankful to work in one of the food capitals of the world ……. and soon saw I was more than ready for the big city.
ETC: Every photo you post on Instagram of your dishes looks like a work of art. They do not look like the Caribbean cuisine everyone is used to. Your dishes are bright and light, while Caribbean cuisine is known for it’s heaviness. How do you describe your style of cuisine?
JH: My cuisine (Caribbean cuisine), has a side like no other that I have seen. I am just interpreting it as I see it. I feel Caribbean food should taste and look like carnival. On a plate full of colour and life and taste sexy.
ETC: What other chefs, Caribbean or otherwise, have influenced you most? How?
JH: I would have to say my dad. He’s not a chef, but he gave me a mind of my own to create and taste new things. He always would say to me, “Boy you born by yourself….you ain’t no twin!”
ETC: You’ve stated that you want to be the first Caribbean chef to receive a Michelin Star. Do you feel that you are getting closer to that goal?
JH: Yes, I think so. In fact, I wouldn’t mind being a part of someone getting there first. But just to open the door for others to have pride in our cuisine and know what it can do .
I feel Caribbean food should taste and look like carnival.
ETC: For the most part, when people think of Caribbean food, they think ‘jerk’ or ‘curry’. Lately, Caribbean chefs, such as yourself, have really been stepping onto the world stage with great enthusiasm and success, showing the that there is more to Caribbean cuisine.
How would you describe the state of Caribbean cuisine and where do you see it going?
JH: I would say we have a hard road ahead. Firstly, our young chefs are interested in other cuisines. Secondly, we are cooking more European cuisine in Caribbean restaurants. Why is this? Thirdly, the food seems to be stuck in the past (70’s). Lastly, we recognize outside chefs when we should look within, but more (Caribbean) chefs are seeing and pushing, so it will be hard but it will be amazing in the end. Believe me!
ETC: What is your favourite meal to prepare at home for yourself or family and friends?
JH: Curry chicken/split pea rice with Cole slaw and tossed salad.
ETC: Where do you see Chef Jason Howard in 5 years?
Teaching the young chefs the true meaning of being a chef and loving what you do. Passing on my knowledge and skills of Caribbean food that I have refined over the years so that one day I can say, “I trained that chef…and now he/she is the best there is.”