El Jefe charms taste buds with Latin American flavour
If a recipe is a story that ends with a good meal, then consider El Jefe a journey that spans several continents, making a smooth landing on our green shores. The intent is to charm our taste buds and our hearts with Latin American flavour.
“We provide unique and delicious Latin dishes with a twist on Jamaican flavours. We are all about the taste, presentation, and the dining experience,” Codlin-Redondo told Food. And she stayed true to her word.
I was warmly greeted by Rockeisha Codlin-Redondo, co-owner of El Jefe Restaurant, who shared a few of the establishment’s signature dishes.
Now, by a show of hands, who loves loaded nachos? I know I do. And the El Jefe Nachos delivers on culture and serving size. It’s a winning compilation of crispy nachos, melted mozzarella and cheddar cheese, and caraotas – better known as black beans, jalapenos, sour cream, and pico de gallo. The flavours didn’t disappoint and it’s a great sharing item so groups can dig in and still be satisfied.
With a radiant smile, waitress Natallia Thompson introduced me to the El Jefe Pork Chops. Tender to the knife and fork, and the taste is exotic in every mouth-watering bite! The dish is a scrumptious serving of juicy boneless pork chops, wrapped in bacon and grilled to tasty perfection. Topped with a special barbecued sauce made with seasonal fruits, it is served on a bed of Cuban mojo potatoes, jalapeno jam, and an assortment of garden greens.
The journey then landed at the destination of chicken Maduro. Plantain lovers, this one’s for you! Grilled chicken with mozzarella cheese sauce, roasted bell peppers, mayonnaise, feta cheese, and pico de gallo, topped with green garnish are placed on a chunk of roasted plantain. This symphony of sweet and savoury is balanced by the flavour of mayonnaise and cheese that take your taste buds on an epic ride.
Then it was time for the Cochinita Pibill. The main ingredient, pulled pork, that is slowly cooked in beer, tropical fruit juice, and natural spices; placed on top of a creamy mashed potato ‘pillow’. Feel free to wrap that tasty luxury and comfort in the flour taco ‘bed’ provided and indulge. The only word that could come to mind was, ‘Wow!’ The flavour profiles are both surprising and exciting.
Resident mixologist, Stephanie Brown, pours her freshly shaken spicy mango margarita over ice. This took sipping pleasures to spicy levels. But be warned: if you can’t handle the heat, step away from the drink.
Rockeisha Codlin-Redondo always knew that she was a fan of good cooking. But it wasn’t until she met her husband that she discovered her true love for food.
Since he’s from the Latin American region, he was exposed to Mexican and Cuban dishes. Unfamiliar with these offerings, she was curious and intrigued to learn about her beloved’s culture. He stepped into the kitchen to share the flavours of his culture and it was love at first bite for her.
“I consider this a love story; a love of food. But we saw where there was a gap in the market for Latin American dishes and decided to fill it with our offerings,” Codlin-Redondo revealed.
While many Jamaicans are accustomed to Mexican fusions, at El Jefe, they can also taste the flavours from our Caribbean neighbours like Cuba and Trinidad, which boast rich spices as well.
“All are from the region, but they have different nuances. Latin Americans are corn eaters and they have their own ways to prepare their meals. Dishes like tacos are a popular choice, but then there’s tamales, arepas, and empanadas, which are all made from corn,” she revealed.
Since opening in October, the response has been great. Admitting that advertising hasn’t been at the forefront of the marketing strategy, the duo relies on the company’s Instagram page and is grateful for the result that word of mouth has brought so far. They are also thankful to have found the location at Market Place on Constant Spring that exposes diners to a melting pot of fusion, cultures, and flavours.
Persons, they say, will dine elsewhere, discover El Jefe, and return for another date night or group outing. “People enjoy the meal so we have returning customers who bring their friends,” she said, adding, “We are happy to say that we were filled to capacity for Valentine’s Day,” she added.
With hopes to expand the business to create different branches across the island, the dynamic duo is also looking towards tapping into the regional market as well, since the gap is also evident within the Caribbean.
So, what are you waiting for? Let El Jefe charm your taste buds with Latin American flavour.