BOLO Business Podcast Season 1 Guest : Roger Shakes

Episode 6, Guest Profile, Season 1

Roger Shakes: A Culinary Journey from Jamaica to Camden

In the heart of Camden, where cultures collide and flavours intertwine, Roger Shakes stands as a culinary maestro. His journey from the sun-kissed shores of Jamaica to the bustling streets of London has been a feast for the senses. Let’s explore the chapters of his life, each infused with passion, heritage, and the irresistible aroma of Caribbean cuisine.

Growing Up in Westmoreland, Jamaica

Roger’s roots trace back to the vibrant landscapes of Westmoreland, Jamaica. As a child, he learned the art of cooking from his grandparents—their kitchen a canvas where flavors danced and memories simmered. The simplicity of fresh ingredients, the rhythm of spices, and the warmth of communal meals shaped Roger’s culinary soul.

From Washing Plates to Head Chef: The Mango Room Connection

Roger’s journey to London began in his twenties. His first job? Washing plates at the legendary Mango Room in Camden Town. Amid the clatter of dishes, he absorbed the essence of Caribbean cuisine. Learning from seasoned chefs and drawing from his grandparents’ wisdom, Roger’s passion ignited. Soon, he ascended to head chef, where stars like Prince, Spike Lee, and Grace Jones savored his creations—curry goat, jerk chicken, and ebony wings.

Roger’s Kitchen: A Flavourful Oasis

In 2020, Roger embarked on a solo adventure. Inspired by his cousin Derrick Blake (the late owner of Mango Room), he opened Roger’s Kitchen—a modern Caribbean restaurant and bar. Nestled at 71 Camden Road, it’s more than a dining spot; it’s a cultural bridge. Here, Roger serves up Jamaican classics with flair, tantalising taste buds and stirring memories.

Signature Dishes

  • Saltfish Cod Fritters with Apple Chutney: A crispy delight that marries saltfish’s briny notes with the sweetness of apple chutney.
  • Chargrilled Jerk Chicken: Tender, smoky, and fiery—the embodiment of Caribbean soul.
  • Vibrant Vegan Curry: A symphony of plant-based flavors, celebrating the richness of island produce.
  • Roger’s Special Pork Ribs: Succulent, glazed, and unforgettable.

Black Business Person of the Year

Roger’s dedication to flavor and community earned him a position on the shortlist of the prestigious title of Black Business Person of the Year in the category of consumer & luxury. His journey—from humble beginnings to culinary excellence—inspires us all. Roger’s Kitchen isn’t just about food; it’s about preserving heritage, sharing love, and creating a home away from home.

As Roger himself says, “It’s consistency that matters. The jerk chicken tastes the same after 20 years.” And indeed, patrons travel far and wide for that taste of authenticity.

Roger Shakes—a chef, a storyteller, a guardian of tradition. His kitchen echoes with laughter, spices, and the heartbeat of Jamaica. As Camden embraces his flavors, Roger’s legacy continues—one plate at a time.

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