Jason Evelyn (Picture by Christoff Griffith.)
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Jason Evelyn grew up learning to cook from his two grandmothers. But upon their passing, Jason was left with a huge void and desperately missed their cooking.
So it was out of the yearning for authentic Bajan food and a need for change that he decided to create his own restaurant, what is now called Clamon Cherry: A Bajan Experience.
“This was created because I wanted a change. I was in corporate Barbados for 25 years. I was food and beverage manager at hotels across Barbados and in the Caribbean as well. So I desperately wanted to get into something that was uniquely mine and something that I love.
“Because both my grandmothers passed, I always missed their cooking and missed cooking with them. So I said, ‘Why not open a restaurant?’ So I did my market research and checked it out and there was nothing being done how I would do it,” he explained.
With that vision in mind, Jason went on to create what can easily be described as one of Barbados’ best kept secrets located at Tyrol Cot in St Michael.
Jason explained the name to EASY, saying that he was looking for something to reflect all things Bajan which was the dream and vision he had for the restaurant.
“After I found the place and I said, ‘Yes, I wanted an authentic Bajan name’. It took us three weeks because I wanted a name that as soon as you hear it, you would know it’s Bajan. A lady who I call my stepmother, I called her for advice. In a matter of minutes she said, ‘I have it, clammy cherry’, and I said sold. When I got off the phone with her I checked Google and decided to call it as Bajans pronounce it,” he said.
Jason said the experience at Clamon Cherry was unlike any other and stressed that he thoroughly enjoyed going to work and creating experiences for average Bajans who were just looking for “good Bajan food”.
“When you come to Clamon Cherry you are coming to a relaxed environment, a nice hideaway from the outside world. It’s a place where you can come if you are having a stressful day at work and you just want to get away for a bit.
“We have developed a reputation and an understanding with our regulars that whatever happens here, stays here,” he reiterated.
He added, “And of course it wouldn’t be complete without a good old Bajan rum and coke or your drink of choice. It really is a unique experience we have here but you won’t know unless you come and find out.”
The bubbly chef said business was going well, even though he experienced some slow periods at times.
Jason said he knew Bajans loved good food which was evident in the many repeat customers he had, especially for his signature fried pork.
“I really can’t complain. It has been slow over the last few months because of the economic situation but I was embraced by everyone and I now have my regular clientele that come in and expect to have my signature fried pork. If I don’t do pork people are usually upset. If I don’t do the cou cou with salt fish gravy they fret. On Saturday I sell pudding and souse and in an hour’s time all is sold out. . . . . Some people have standing orders,” the 39-year-old said.
And for this month of November, when the country celebrates Independence, the chef is cooking up something uniquely Bajan for his customers.
“We will have everything authentically Bajan. We will have conkies, pumpkin fritters, cheese and cherries and more,” he added.
Jason said his passion for cooking stemmed from secondary school days and was encouraged by his former teachers.
“I have always been interested cooking. When I was at The Lodge School back in the day, I had home economics teachers Ms Kellman and Ms St Hill. I always had a passion for cooking. I was the only fourth or fifth form student that was allowed to get keys for the Home Economics room. I could go in and start cooking and baking. Any teacher did not mind me skipping their class once I was in that room cooking or baking. They would always get some as well.
“The teachers really pushed me in terms of ensuring that I continued. I had a passion for it, and they just fuelled that passion for me. So I must thank all the teachers there for encouraging me,” he said.
Jason said he hopes to open up two more unique locations.
“I’m just searching now for the ideal spots. I would be very happy with three locations,” he said.
Jason said he feels good to know that his grandmothers would have been very proud of him.
“I think both of my grandmothers would have been more than proud of this restaurant and the work I’m doing. It’s completely mine and they always wanted me to have my own,” he said. (DB)