The Jerk Joint
By YP Contributor

Jamaican Jerk on Queen West

What happens when a marketing whizz decides to share a gem that has been under her nose for her entire life? You get The Jerk Joint. Owner Sharon Slacks is the marketing whizz and the gem is the tasty Jamaican food that she grew up with. "I love the depth of the flavours in my homeland food," she says. "Even a simple dish like rice and peas has layers of flavours."

The Jerk Joint opened in 2012 and has quickly garnered a following, in part because of its mouth watering jerk chicken dishes, and in part because of Sharon's skills in marketing and advertising. Sharon's restaurant has received rave reviews on social media and sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp. Customers are lined up for her wraps, rotis, patties and jerk, especially at lunchtime.

One thing The Jerk Joint does that few other jerk places do is use a smoker. That and pimento spices give my meat that authentic taste. - Sharon Slacks, owner
The Jerk Joint. Jamaican and Caribbean food, daily specials, vegetarian options, halal meals

Smoked Meats

Jerk comes from the word "charqui" which is a Spanish word for jerked or dried meat. In Sharon’s homeland of Jamaica, the jerk is prepared in outdoor pit fires, which is what gives it its smoky flavour. "In Toronto, you can only do that for two months of the year so I came up with an alternative," smiles Sharon. "One thing The Jerk Joint does that few other jerk places do is use a smoker. That and pimento spices give my meat that authentic taste."

Sharon also only uses halal chicken. "I am fussy about where meat comes from. You can get it cheaper, but I prefer the good quality halal," she says. "Toronto is multi-cultural and has a huge Muslim community. I want them to have the chance to sample my food, too."

The Jerk Joint. Jamaican and Caribbean food, daily specials, vegetarian options, halal meals

Bringing Fabulous Jerk to Toronto

How Sharon came to open The Jerk Joint is an interesting tale. She was working in advertising and marketing for a large company, but was let go after a huge downsizing. "I worked in my brother’s Caribbean food restaurant for a couple of years and got to know my native cuisine from a whole new angle," she recalls. Deciding there was a niche for good takeout jerk, Sharon registered her company, sourced suppliers and opened her friendly spot in Queen West’s Live Fresh Food Market, as soon as she knew she had enough culinary experience to make a success of the venture.

The one downside to Sharon's success has been that she doesn't see much of her homeland these days. Before opening The Jerk Joint, she made sure to head to Jamaica four times a year to reconnect with homegrown cooking and all the good things about the island. "I can rarely manage the time to go now,” she laughs. “I’m so busy bringing fabulous jerk to Toronto.”

The Jerk Joint. Jamaican and Caribbean food, daily specials, vegetarian options, halal meals
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