White Men Can’t Jerk

Art & Culture

White men can’t jump. White men can’t dance. White men can’t go to the shops dressed just in their pants for a Lucozade and a packet of salt n’ vinegar real McCoys on a Saturday morning because godammit I’m fucking hungover and I’d PREFER IT IF YOU WEREN’T SHOUTING AT ME TO PUT SOME CLOTHES ON. 

There’s a lot of things that white men can’t do it seems, and adding to that list is pop-up jerk chicken stalwarts ‘White Men Can’t Jerk’, two Caribbean food loving lads usually found selling their wares at music events across London.   

So I went down to the beautifully located Turntables in Hackney Wick, nestled serenely by the River Lee, to find out if White men can in fact jerk, or if the chefs would admirably live up to their self-depreciating name.

After grabbing some drinks from the lovely Turntables bar-staff, I arrived at their stall with queues already snaking around the place to find Dave, one of the chefs, manfully slathering sauce and grilling chicken whilst taking orders all by himself as his partner Steve prepped the food round back.

He said: “See I used to be a self-employed builder up until 3 years ago so I know hard work, but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the prep and cooking in the kitchens is really tough,” He puffed, in between hungry punters palming notes into his hand. “There’s nothing glamorous about it.

The duo joined forces through their love of music, with Dave being a DJ (under the name Dave Hermitage, taking the name of his old sound-system) and Steve being more of the chef. 

When I first met Steve, people were calling him white men can’t jerk; I think they were taking the piss, and I just thought it was the funniest thing I’ve heard. 

We started it as a one off party, renting a small venue in Clapton, made a Facebook page and it was completely packed out, so straight after that we got a deal with Appleton’s rum, then continued doing it monthly and the food just got popular and it grew into a food stall.

And it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. I tried the jerk chicken both in a burger and on its own and both were absolutely delicious. The brioche bun was satisfyingly thick, and the jerk chicken was juicy but with just enough of a kick to want a cold pint with it. The pineapple and mango salsa just gave it a nice sweet edge to take away from the power of the spice and the smokiness of the barbeque. 

Later on when I got more pissed I tried the chicken by itself with a dollop of some delicious home-made mayonnaise and it was equally tasty. Having the chicken on its own made you really appreciate the dense jerk flavours in the sauce, and also how much effort goes into the slow cooking, as every piece was tender throughout. 

The two are often seen with their stall set out at music events because their ethos is that their food matches well with decent music, and that is echoed by their plans for the summer:

Yeah we are doing the big Global Rhythms night on the 1st August with Gilles Peterson. Secret Garden Party: doing the new arena there called disco picnic, various chilli festivals, loads of stuff with LWE, like the big rooftop party with Seth Troxler.

Sounds like a busy summer, perfect for anyone who wants to eat some top quality food whilst they’re getting their freak on at some of London’s best raves. 

It looks like even though white men have suffered crushing defeats in dancing, jumping and being able to walk mostly naked into shops on a hangover, at least they can finally chalk up a win for cooking some excellent jerk chicken. 

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