Although Donnet Joseph opened her own food business just five months ago, she has been preparing for an entrepreneurial career in cooking her entire life.
“At every function, at any get-together, I have always been the cook,” Joseph told Madison365. “If I have a get-together at the house, or Thanksgiving dinner, if I’m here for Christmas my house is the house that everybody comes to for food.”
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Joseph opened M&J Jamaican Kitch’n food stand in April. She sells authentic Jamaican dishes including jerk chicken, curry chicken, fried plantains and jerk tofu. She describes the food as flavorful, but not too spicy. And she gets most of the spices flown in from Jamaica.
“Anything Jamaican — you name it, I cook it,” she said.
In the near future, she expects to start offering Jamaican desserts too.
“It has the Jamaican flavor — it always makes your mouth happy,” she said.
By the end of the month, M&J Jamaican Kitch’n will have a live website where people can order dishes to go. She and her husband Jean are in the process of building their food cart to make the business more travel-friendly. Right now, they are at South Side Farmers’ Market on Sundays off Park Street, and will be set up during The Sessions, a weekend-long event at McPike Park starting Friday, Aug. 6.
More than 20 years ago, when she came to the United States from Jamaica, she knew she wanted to give people in Madison an authentic Jamaican experience.
She said that back then the food was less prevalent than it is now, and although knowledge of her native cuisine has become more well known, there is still a lot for people to discover.
“It is kinda like I want to bring a different flavor to Madison — that is what I want to offer,” she said.
Joseph has experience cooking in different restaurants including Olive Garden, Applebees and David’s Jamaican Cuisine. She said she is leaving her current job after 26 years to fulfill this lifelong passion.
Sometimes she will be preparing food inside Christine’s Kitchen on East Washington Avenue from 3 a.m. to sometimes 10 p.m. at night. She said even her friends have standing orders for regular parties and will tell her, “Donnet, you know what to bring.”
She enjoys watching their reaction when they take their first bite, and getting an “I love it” response makes her happy.
“The food and flavor will speak for itself,” she said.
To find updates, and information visit M&J Jamaican Kitch’n on Facebook.