Sat | Nov 27, 2021

2Yutes, 2Good - 17-year-old brings Mediterranean cuisine to lunchtime

Published:Thursday | February 18, 2021 | 12:05 AMKhanique McDaniel/Gleaner Writer
The Korean BBQ fried chicken rice bowl.
The Korean BBQ fried chicken rice bowl.
Seventeen-year-old Alexander Sarju of 2Yutes is following his passion for cooking.
Seventeen-year-old Alexander Sarju of 2Yutes is following his passion for cooking.
The sticky char siu pork belly rice bowl.
The sticky char siu pork belly rice bowl.

Shaking up your lunch options with his Mediterranean-style of cooking is 17-year-old Alexander Sarju of 2Yutes.

Offering falafel, shawarma and Asian-inspired rice bowls, Sarju opens his kitchen and passion for the highly spiced cuisines, once or twice a week.

“As of right now, 2Yutes is available on a Wednesday or Saturday; and if it’s one time a week, it will be on a Thursday,” said Sarju.

WATCH: Young chef blazing in the kitchen

With a rotating weekly menu, the youngster caters to those searching for slices of his signature dish — slow-roasted chicken or beef that’s been marinated in yoghurt, a mix of Mediterranean spices, olive oil and garlic. It is then slowly shaved from a rotating spit as it cooks, and is paired with a tzatziki sauce inside a pita bread topped with vegetables. “Our signature dish would definitely be our shawarma.” But not to be left out, Sarju and his team have also created a version for vegans and vegetarians, “We have a falafel, which is a chickpea-based shawarma. It’s the same ingredients, but meatless.”

Armed with a vision, the recent graduate of Hillel Academy has taken the reins of his two-year-old business after parting ways with his partner. With help from his family, he has grown the company into a catering and pop-up event service. Now that high school is in the rear-view, Sarju has decided to follow his passion for cooking to one day move his home-cooked meals into a restaurant. “I plan to understand the business side of cooking better, on a larger scale,” said the teenager.

Unfortunately, the budding businessman has not been spared the effects of COVID-19. “At first, the effects weren’t really felt but now, when you look back at when you would have regular pop-ups to display your food and have a large customer base, now it’s harder because you’re [working] from home. It’s not as easy and it’s cut down the amount of cooking we can do.”

Luckily, he finds that Jamaicans are open to sourcing his Middle Eastern cuisine. “I feel like Jamaicans are very open to trying new things. This style of food was appealing to most. It was more getting our name out there for people to see and for it to be available to the public.”

What started with a Shawarma pit on sale is now a dream to branch out across the island, and possibly the region. Sarju believes that niche services will always have a place in Jamaica. “Go for it. You never know until you actually try and in the Jamaican market, once there is something new, people are always willing to try what you have. The only thing you need [to do] is keep your product consistent.”

Place your orders with 2Yutes, online at Instagram: @2yutes_, or WhatsApp or call (876) 309-2524. They also offer a delivery service.