Stephon Washington considers himself lucky to have spent a lot of time with his Jamaican-born great-grandfather. When he died at the age of 93 in 2007, the man Washington called “Grandpa Hank” left a legacy that’s continuing today. At the end of January, Washington, executive chef at O’Malley’s Pub at Holiday Inn Dulles in Sterling, debuted a ghost kitchen. Its name? Grandpa Hank’s Jamaican Kitchen.
When Washington began culinary school, Grandpa Hank “got quite excited,” he recalls. “He taught me his famous Jamaican chicken with jerk sauce.” Now, diners can have that chicken in their own homes, delivered by GrubHub or Uber Eats. For now, the kitchen exists strictly as delivery, though a few items, including the jerk chicken, have been added to the O’Malley’s menu.
Washington says that the curry goat is also based on a recipe that Grandpa Hank taught him. “I’m definitely cooking from the heart, trying to make him proud,” says Washington. “He always told me to cook from the heart.” Other recipes are original, including oxtail stew served with red beans and rice, and sweet-and-sticky guava shrimp.
Not everything is a classic. Fusion dishes are more along the lines of what Washington calls “jerk adjacent.” There is the Jamaican Me Crazy sandwich, which combines jerk chicken with bacon, smoked Gouda and herb aioli on focaccia. The Caribbean chicken pizza also uses jerk chicken as a jumping off point to big flavor, with sweet Caribbean-style mango sauce, onion, pepper and pickled jalapeno.
“I know it sounds cliché, but it’s a part of me,” says Washington of sharing his Jamaican heritage with an eager audience. “I’m really, really excited.”// 45425 Holiday Park Dr., Sterling
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