“I came from the world of fine dining, French cuisine, working in three-Michelin-starred restaurants, and I learned a ton of techniques,” says Patois chef Craig Wong. “I think it’s hilarious that they would be snobby towards our use of things like Ritz crackers. It’s delicious.”
Wong is referencing his prosperity jerk lobster dish, one of the many dishes at the Toronto restaurant that riffs on the ingredients and flavors he recalls from his youth, growing up in a Chinese family and community in Jamaica. “Chinese people go way back in Jamaica, there’s generations and generations of us there,” says Wong. “When we first opened, people had no idea this culture much less this cuisine existed.”
Chef de Cuisine Nicholas Beckford is Wong’s “right hand,” as well as a skillful chef when it comes to rubbing down whole chickens with a jerk rub, skewering them, and smoking them for the restaurant — a process that takes days. Together, they create dishes like jerk chicken chow mein, jerk pork belly yakisoba, prosperity jerk lobster, deep-fried oxtail with rice, dumplings, and peas, and more.
“Jamaican-Chinese food was taught to me by my grandmother. We go back three generations to Jamaica. She was cooking Jamaican food with Chinese ingredients, and Chinese food with Jamaican ingredients,” Wong reminisces. “Fusion for the sake of it is definitely not something that I’m into, but with a mixed background the way that I have, it’s just a natural progression for me to experiment and play with both sides of the cultures and the cuisines.”