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Jmakin' Jamaican chefs expecting long lines during Juneteenth Festival

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Posted at 11:17 AM, Jun 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-09 12:17:20-04

MILWAUKEE — Greg Curtis and Wade Morgan met here in Milwaukee, but their roots go all the way back to Jamaica.

They used to get together with friends to cook jerk chicken.

"They enjoyed the food and said that we should cook and let other people see how good the food is, because it's good enough to open a restaurant," Wade says.

Greg and Wade's start was pretty humble — just a tent in a parking lot near 60th and Capitol.

"We used our own pots and pans," Wade says.

But their food was an instant success.

"The line was crazy, crazy, crazy long," Wade recalls. "People were driving by and they were making u-turns because the smoke was — we were outside grilling and they smelled the smoke and wondered where the smoke was coming from."

"That was very exciting," Greg adds. "Kind of like adrenaline saying, 'yes, this is going somewhere.'"

Over the past nine years, Wade and Greg's success has only grown.

"People are so excited, people are coming and taking pictures of the truck, people are always trying to get the smoke to blow on them," Greg says.

People know the food is good, but they might not know its history. Wade says jerk chicken goes all the way back to the 1600s.

"It started with the Indians, the Arawak Indians. They never used water to cook, they used coal."

Over the years, the recipe changed and evolved.

"You have German Jamaican, you have Chinese Jamaican, you have white Jamaican, all type of Jamaican," Greg says. "They cook the same food too."

"Everybody has their own little twist that they put to it," Wade adds.

It's a twist that is about so much more than taste.

"I just love it. Because when I do cook and I see the expression on the people's faces and how they come back and talk about it, it drives me more," Greg says.

"I'm responsible to make sure that this carries on, like it starts with my family... and spread the Jamaican cooking culture to the world," Wade adds.

"It's just a culture for everybody to enjoy, everybody from every walk of life," says Greg. "It brings everybody together and everybody just enjoy and have a good time."

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