Caribbean Provisions On Da Go serves up Jamaican dishes with a proudly offbeat twist. Owner/chef Craig Wright brings 25 years of cooking experience to his brand-new venture, which hit the road in April; though he’s not Jamaican himself, he has a long history with the cuisine.
“I’m actually Nova Scotian – but I’ve been adopted by a Jamaican family, ever since I was six years old,” said Wright, who grew up surrounded by Caribbean cooking and married a Jamaican woman. After graduating from cooking school in 1989, he worked in various restaurants, hotels and catering outfits.
“The last two years, I said, you know what? I like my Caribbean food, I can cook it well – I’m going to open up a Caribbean food truck, because there’s not many in the city.”
But even though Randy’s Roti might be the only other Caribbean truck in town, Wright wanted to set himself firmly apart from the rest of the city’s jerk joints – alongside classic dishes, the menu features dishes like jerk-seasoned fries, Jamaican-spiced donairs (a nod to his Nova Scotian roots), and jerk burgers.
“I’ll say, The Jamaican patty is so plain. Let’s make it a Jamaican pizza patty with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, close it back up, give it to the customer.’ When I have dishes like curry goat, I’ll say, ‘let’s do a curry goat burrito. We’ll put peas in it, salad, roll it up, give that to the customer.’”
Most popular, he says, are his jerk wings (which, like all his other chicken dishes, are halal) and his fries, though plenty come looking for the jerk chicken. He plans to rotate in other specials, including curry corn and a mango-pineapple burger.
“A lot of people have commented, saying ‘Hey, why are you changing Caribbean food? Why are you mocking the patty?’” he says. “There’s probably over 125 restaurants in Toronto or the GTA alone that have Caribbean food – it’s all the same.”
Even at Caribana, he adds, his truck drew tons of traffic looking for something new in a sea of food vendors.
“You still have those people that still want the same-old ackee and salt fish, curry goat and rice … I said, well, I understand that that’s what you want – and I still have those meals for the people that want it. But I find that the new generations want that twist.”
So far, Wright says, his inventions are resonating with diners – he’s commonly booked for services in Oakville as well as Toronto. Wright’s hoping to continue serving all through the winter of 2014, while constantly dreaming up dishes.
“I keep on thinking up new ideas, and new plans, and new menu options, because this is my business now, and I realize that you gotta be creative.”