10 Questions with Jammin' JeRk

10 Questions With..., Sydney / 25 March 2015

Jerk sauce brings the heat and spice of Jamaica, with an infusion of smokey flavours to Australia thanks to Jammin JeRk. We tasted the delicious sauces at the Taste of Sydney Festival. We wanted to find out more so we spoke to the owner Brian Johnson, about his inspiration, how to use jerk and more.

  1. What is jerk and where does it come from originally?

Jerk is a style of cooking native to Jamaica in which meat is dry-rubbed or wet marinated with a very hot spice mixture called Jamaican jerk spice. The seasoning is traditionally applied to pork and meat. Modern recipes also apply jerk spice mixes to fish, shrimp, shellfish, beef, sausage, lamb, tofu, and vegetables. Jerk principally relies upon two items: allspice (called “pimento” in Jamaica) and Scotch bonnet peppers. Other ingredients include onions, thyme, garlic, ginger and cinnamon. Jerk is a taste of Jamaica it’s a spicy, earthy, smoky party in your mouth with every bite!  It’s a fresh, simple, easy to apply marinade which provides an amazing spicy flavour to meat, seafood, tofu, and vegetarian meals.

  1. What inspired you to start Jammin’ JeRk?

Historically i would receive care packages from Jamaica which would include a jerk paste.  My Australian mates would ask for an extra bottle. On finding out that they loved jerk as much as I did .. I thought it was worth investigating how this new taste would resonate with the Australian dining public.  I did this by getting a booth at major food events during the Glebe Street Fair and Mardi Gras Fair Day which were a resounding success.  This encouraged me to make the product in Australia and offer this amazing taste to all Australians.

  1. Where did your recipe come from?

The recipe is a home made recipe, but certainly it has been transformed for an Australian taste eg. The JeRk BBQ Sauce.  I had my parents try the jerk and their response is that it is not hot enough … this I can agree with as I need to first make sure the taste is palatable to Australians. I will, over time, increase the level of habanero in the recipe to a proper Jamaican level – bring on the heat!!

  1. What makes a good Jerk sauce?

A good jerk sauce is the smokiness of the pimento included in the recipe and the use of the scotch bonnet habanero which gives jerk it’s unique taste.

  1. What is your favourite Jammin’ JeRk sauce and why?

Would be unfair to choose a favourite… I do like the HOT marinade version and I love the JeRk BBQ Sauce.  The BBQ Sauce was a labour of love in making something really unique with an amazing taste profile of rustic, earthy, tangy, sweet and smoky with some latent heat.  It goes well with any sandwich or burger, but especially goes well with Tempe and Tofu for vegans/vegetarians and works very well for carnivores when making pork ribs or a slow cooked brisket – YUM!!

  1. What are some of the ways you can cook with the Jerk Chicken sauce? (rubs, dippings, marinade, as a main flavour to accompany etc 

Long popular overseas, Jamaican flavours are gaining favour in Australia. Diners are most familiar with Jerk Chicken – a real crowd favourite!
While chicken and jerk marinade are a great pairing, jerk is a versatile product with other applications.  Please see below, a few of the ways our Jammin’ JeRk marinades and BBQ sauce can be made available to diners:

  • Skewered Jerk Beef Rolls with a side of Jerk BBQ sauce
  • Jerk Grilled King Prawns with Jerk-infused dipping sauce
  • Jerk Pork Belly sliders with Apple Coleslaw and Jerk BBQ aioli


  • Slow-roasted Leg of lamb with Rosemary Duck Fat Finger-licking Potatoes
  • Jerk T-Bone Steak with Shoe String Fries
  • Oven-roasted Jerk Barramundi with Dill Crème Fraiche dressing


  • Grilled Jerk Pork Salad with Tortilla Crisps
  • Jerk Chickpea Salad
  • Jerk Chicken and Avocado Salad with Lime dressing


  • Jerk Sweet Potato and Black Bean Curry
  • Jamaican Street Corn with Jerk Mayo and Toasted Coconut
  • Jerk Tofu Skewers with Pineapple Mango dressing
  1. What are your plans for Jammin’ JeRk in the future? (Also what you are doing at Spectrum Now?) 

Currently, Jammin’ JeRk is making Jamaican spicy jerk beef patties for the Kings Cross Hotel as a part of the Spectrum Now festival:

  1. Where is your favourite place to EAT in Sydney?

I host dinners at home for friends as well as do old school Progressive dinners where we go from one house to the next with each person doing one course with wine.  When not doing that I like comfort food and especially breakfast so anywhere with an amazing breakfast, I’m there!

  1. Where is your ideal place to go for a DRINK in Sydney?

To go for drinks I would say The Commons in Darlinghurst.  But, not much of a drinker so not on the priority list.

  1. When it’s time to PLAY, what do you go?

To be honest, been busy working on building Jammin’ JeRk. Not much PLAY for me right now.  Can’t wait to get back out there though will have to check in with EAT, DRINK, PLAY when I’m ready to hit the town!